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Pirates split series with Braves
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ATLANTA - Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including a go-ahead double in the fifth inning and a two-run homer in the ninth, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Thursday night for a split of the four-game series.

McCutchen had been 1 for 11 in the series, which included wins by the Braves in 19 and 10 innings, before meeting with manager Clint Hurdle before Thursday's game. Hurdle said he asked McCutchen to compare video of his swing from recent games and when he was having more success.

The quick study must have helped. McCutchen had a first-inning single before snapping a 1-all tie with his fifth-inning double off Derek Lowe (6-9), who had been perfectly dominant against the Pirates until Thursday night.

McCutchen added his 15th homer, a two-run shot off George Sherrill, in the ninth.

Kevin Correia (12-8) gave up two runs on nine hits and a walk in 6 1-3 innings.

Joel Hanrahan got the final four outs for his 30th save in 31 chances. Hanrahan allowed a double to David Ross with one out in the ninth before ending the game with two quick outs.

Both starting pitchers remained in the game after a 47-minute rain delay in the fourth inning with the score tied 1-all.

Lowe gave up hits to the first three batters he faced in the fifth, including McCutchen's double, which drove in Xavier Paul. Garrett Jones, who singled, scored on a groundout by Pedro Alvarez for a 3-1 lead.

Lowe gave up three runs on eight hits and three walks in five innings in his first career loss to the Pirates. The right-hander was 10-0 with a 2.64 ERA in 10 starts against Pittsburgh before Thursday night, including 3-0 in 2010.

Freddie Freeman, who had three hits, played a role in the Braves' runs in the first and sixth innings. Nate McLouth drew a leadoff walk from Correia in the first, moved to third on Freeman's single and scored on Eric Hinske's ground-rule double.

Freeman led off the sixth with a double and scored on shortstop Ronny Cedeno's throwing error to first on Dan Uggla's grounder. Uggla was awarded a hit, extending his career-best hitting streak to 19 games.

Right-hander Anthony Varvaro, recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, made his Braves debut by striking out his first two batters in the sixth. He retired the first five batters he faced before walking three straight with two outs in the seventh. Varvaro recovered to strike out Ronny Cedeno on three pitches.

NOTES: The Pirates are 48-0 when leading after eight innings. ... Braves OF Wilkin Ramirez was optioned to Gwinnett. ... Braves 3B Chipper Jones had an MRI and did not start for the third straight game due to a strained right quadriceps. He hit into a double play as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. ... Freeman extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Varvaro appeared in four games with Seattle in 2010 and was claimed by the Braves off waivers on Jan. 13.


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