After a week in which they had very little to feel good about, the Braves doubled down on satisfaction Tuesday night: They snapped a seven-game losing streak and got a big performance from a veteran pitcher in his first start since Tommy John surgery.

Gavin Floyd pitched seven strong innings and Chris Johnson’s RBI single in the eighth inning lifted the Braves to a 2-1 win against the Cardinals at Turner Field, snapping the team’s longest skid since an eight-game streak in May 2012.

“I didn’t expect that,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Floyd’s performance. “I expected a guy that was going to scuffle through five, six innings first time out. Hadn’t been in competition for a year, coming through all that stuff. But he sure passed with flying colors. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”

A day shy of the one-year anniversary of surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow, Floyd pitched seven innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts for his ninth save.

He didn’t gete a decision, but there were only smiles after the 31-year-old right-hander threw 66 strikes in 104 healthy pitches.
“Just thankful for this opportunity,” Floyd said. “It felt good. A lot of emotions, a lot of excitement this whole process, leading up to it and then getting back out there. It was a big win for us today and hopefully we can continue to get after it tomorrow.”

The Braves will send Mike Minor to face Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in Wednesday night’s rubber game and series finale.

With the score 1-1 in the eighth inning, the Braves got consecutive one-out singles from Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman, the latter a screaming liner off the leg of left-handed reliever Randy Choate. Side-armer Pat Neshek entered to face Johnson, who has struggled mightily.

He used an inside-out swing for an opposite-field single to right that proved to be the game-winning RBI.

“It felt good,” said Johnson, who had been 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position. “It was a grind, I tell you that. It wasn’t easy. The guy (Neshek) is funky, he’s nasty. Anybody who’s watched me lately knows that 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, which was nice.”