- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - Randy Choate’s unplanned “kick save” got in the way of the Cardinals’ chances for a road win.

St. Louis wasted a strong start by Tyler Lyons as Choate (0-1) and Pat Neshek combined to give up the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

With one out in the eighth, Justin Upton singled to center. Freddie Freeman followed with a liner that bounced off Choate’s left leg to third baseman Matt Carpenter for an infield hit.

“If it misses me it’s a ground ball to (shortstop) Jhonny (Peralta), probably a double play,” Choate said. “I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even see it. It just somehow found me and ricochets off me.

“That’s the way it bounces sometimes and it stinks, but what are you going to do? … I could become skinnier I guess but other than that there’s not much you can do about it.”

The Braves snapped a seven-game losing streak. The Cardinals fell to 1-6 in games decided in final at-bats.

Choate said he didn’t see the ball until it hit him right above his foot.

“It was kind of a kick save after that,” he said.

Neshek gave up Chris Johnson’s single to right field that drove in Upton and allowed Freeman to advance to third.

Johnson called the at-bat against Neshek’s side-arm delivery “a grind.”

“It wasn’t easy,” Johnson said. “That guy is funky. He’s nasty. … That was just a battle between me and him and me trying to get something in play. I was able to finally stay on the ball and kind of go the other way a little bit.”

Lyons allowed only one run on four hits, including Upton’s homer, in six innings.

“Great start,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s a shame we haven’t been able to score that guy any runs. … He had everything working today.”

The Cardinals have scored only five runs in Lyons‘ last five road starts.

“It’s not a problem,” Lyons said. “It doesn’t bother me. Those kinds of things I can’t really control. … That kind of stuff will come. It’s not something I don’t think anyone’s worried about right now.”

Lyons retired the first 10 Braves before Upton snapped a 0-for-12 streak with his team-leading ninth homer in the fourth.

The Cardinals tied it in the sixth. Matt Holliday’s single to right-center drove in Carpenter, who led off with a walk.

Atlanta’s Gavin Floyd was strong in his first start in a year, allowing one run on six hits in seven innings.

Floyd made his first major league start since April 27, 2013, for the White Sox against Tampa Bay. He had season-ending Tommy John surgery 10 days later, and his comeback included six minor league rehab starts this year.

“It felt good,” Floyd said. “There were a lot of emotions, a lot of excitement through this process leading up to it and getting back out there … not only starting for the first time but trying to get us back on the winning side.”

David Carpenter (2-0) had two strikeouts in the eighth. Craig Kimbrel added two more strikeouts in a perfect ninth for his ninth save.

Floyd made the start originally planned for Ervin Santana, whose spot was skipped due to his swollen right thumb. Santana is listed as the probable starter against the Cubs on Saturday.

NOTES: Atlanta’s last win was a 1-0 decision in 10 innings over the Reds on April 27. … The losing streak was the Braves‘ longest since eight straight losses from May 21-28, 2012. … Matheny said 2B Mark Ellis was held out for a normal day of rest. Daniel Descalso filled in. … The series ends Wednesday night when Braves LHP Mike Minor looks for his first win of 2014 against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. … A scoring change gave Floyd an infield single on his grounder in the fifth originally ruled as an error on Carpenter.

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