Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday, July 28, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATLANTA -- Andrew McCutchen felt something was slightly wrong with his legs in his swing, and after a brief meeting with his manager and a video review to support his theory, he made an adjustment at the plate.
McCutchen said the tweak in his swing was minor -- the result was big.
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.
"I changed something simple," McCutchen said. "The thing about me is if I'm not feeling too well, if something is off, I can figure it out pretty quick by looking at film."
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.
"Before you see something, you have to feel it first, and I could feel that something was off," said McCutchen, who said he was "trying too hard, overdoing it a little too much," before making the slight adjustment with his legs.
The four-game series included a 2-hour rain delay, a 19-inning game, a 10-inning game and one final 47-minute rain delay on Thursday night.
Through it all, the Pirates played tough and impressed the Braves.
"They're a good team. They're a real good team," Braves catcher David Ross said. "They're playing well and they know it. They don't beat themselves like they used to."
The Pirates are in second place in the NL Central, 1 games behind first-place Milwaukee.
Kevin Correia (12-8) gave up two runs, one earned, 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 Ross with one out in the ninth before ending the game with two quick outs.
Both starting pitchers remained in the game after the rain delay in the fourth inning with the score tied 1-all.
Correia, who pitched with San Francisco and San Diego before signing with the Pirates as a free agent, said it was the first time he has tried to pitch through a rain delay.
"It just felt kind of like a long inning," said Correia, who stayed loose by throwing during the delay.
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.
"They were sitting off-speed early and I wasn't able to make good enough pitches early in the count," Lowe said.
Lowe gave up three runs, 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. A late scoring change made the run unearned.
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.