Andrelton Simmons' two-out, bases-loaded double in the eighth inning was the difference, as the Atlanta Braves edged the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-0, in the middle tilt of a three-game series at Turner Field.
Randy Choate (1-1) started the eighth by walking Freddie Freeman. He struck out Evan Gattis before Brian McCann chased him from the mound with a base hit to center. Trevor Rosenthal fanned Dan Uggla then walked Chris Johnson to load the bases. Simmons' clutch line drive to center gave the Braves a 2-0 lead.
"I don't really feel bad about the way I pitched, it's just disappointing to leave them on," said Choate. "They just laid off some good pitches."
Luis Avilan (3-0) pitched a perfect eighth inning to earn the win after relieving Julio Teheran, who scattered just two hits over seven stellar frames. Craig Kimbrel worked a 1-2-3 ninth to collect his 30th save.
"It's a big win every time we beat a team like that," said Johnson. "We have a tremendous about of respect for the ball club over there, anytime you can beat them you're doing things right."
Matt Holliday and Jon Jay each had doubles for the only hits of the day for the Cardinals, who have lost their last two after winning four straight games.
Cardinals starter Joe Kelly, who hadn't pitched since July 12, had an effective outing. He scattered seven hits with three walks over 6 1/3 innings.
Atlanta, which finished just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, had quality chances to put runs on the board but failed to do so.
Uggla drew a two-out walk in the fourth and Johnson followed with a base hit to put runners on the corners, but Simmons grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Braves had a golden opportunity in the seventh when they had the bases loaded with one out. Seth Maness replaced Kelly to face Justin Upton, who swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Thanks to Teheran dealing, the Cardinals best chance to score came in the fifth inning.
Teheran retired 11 in a row before Jay smacked a one-out double but Teheran struck out the next two to keep the score knotted at zero.
Prior to the game, the Cardinals activated Holliday from the 15-day disabled list and optioned outfielder Brock Peterson to Triple-A Memphis ... Kimbrel joined John Smoltz as the only pitchers in franchise history with three 30- save seasons ... Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran is now 2-for-22 since the All-Star break ... St. Louis went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.