Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman remains encouraged despite the Braves being mired in their longest losing streak in nearly two years.
Freeman and the slumping Braves look to snap their seven-game skid Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle game of this series at Turner Field.Atlanta (17-14) is on the brink of its first eight-game losing streak since May 21-28, 2012, which would double its longest skid from last year.The Braves are struggling in nearly every facet during the slump, compiling a 5.10 ERA -- 6.35 from the starting rotation -- while batting .197 with four homers and 13 runs. They've been even worse with runners in scoring position, batting .118 with just two homers and 17 strikeouts.The Braves went 1 for 12 while striking out six times in those situations Monday even after manager Fredi Gonzalez shuffled the lineup. Justin Upton stared at strike three with the potential tying run at second for the final out of a 4-3 loss to St. Louis.Atlanta still had three doubles and a homer among its nine hits, the main reason Freeman is staying positive."We hit some balls hard with runners on," Freeman said. "We were in the game the whole game. We couldn't say that the past week."Freeman doubled on one of his two hits Monday after going 2 for 23 over the previous six games. He is 9 for 23 with three doubles over his last six home meetings with the Cardinals, including a loss in the 2012 wild-card game.The Braves are expected to send Gavin Floyd to the mound for the first time since he underwent Tommy John surgery while with the Chicago White Sox in April 2013. The right-hander gets the spot start in place of Ervin Santana, who has a bruised right thumb."There's no expectation," Floyd told the team's official website. "I'm excited to get back out there and pitch again and have a second chance to pitch. Just focusing on that, and after that, whatever happens will be dealt with."Floyd was 0-4 with a 5.18 ERA in five starts before getting hurt last year. He's split two career starts against the Cardinals, losing the most recent when he allowed five runs with four walks in 4 2/3 innings on June 14, 2012.The Cardinals (17-16) will counter with Tyler Lyons (0-2, 4.20), who has made his last two appearances out of the bullpen. The second-year left-hander has lost both of his starts, yielding six runs in 12 innings.Lyons has allowed one run in three innings over his last two relief appearances after tossing a perfect seventh in a 6-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday.He's 0-6 with a 6.70 ERA in eight starts since winning at Kansas City on May 28, and he's allowed two runs in 12 1/3 innings over six career relief outings.Still, Lyons isn't concerned with switching roles."Ah, it's not a big deal," he told the team's official website. "I mean, it's a little different mindset from day to day, but in the end, it's all about just making pitches. It changes a little bit, but in the grand scheme of things, it's literally the same thing."While Lyons is facing the Braves for the first time, Matt Carpenter is 8 for 21 (.381) with three doubles, four RBIs and six runs over his past five games against them.He had two hits in the series opener, driving in two runs on a double to spur a three-run fifth inning.