ATLANTA (AP) - For Atlanta, it was the series that wouldn't end. It was also the series in which the Braves couldn't hit.
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 Braves 5-2 on Thursday night for a split of the four-game series.
The series began with a 2-hour rain delay in the Pirates' 3-1 win on Monday night. Then came Atlanta's 4-3 win in 19 innings in a game that lasted almost 7 hours, followed by the Braves' 2-1 win in 10 innings on Wednesday night.
Finally, Thursday night's game included a 47-minute rain delay.
``We all feel like it was a 20-game series,' Braves catcher David Ross said. ``The rain delay today was the icing on the cake.'
The Braves' lack of offense was a common theme throughout the series.
``We just didn't swing the bats,' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The lack of offense may give Braves general manager Frank Wren more to consider as Sunday's trade deadline nears.
Wren told The Associated Press on Thursday he made inquiries about Carlos Beltran and Colby Rasmus before those players were traded this week and he continues to pursue ways to help his team's push for the playoffs.
Atlanta has been linked in trade speculation involving Houston's Hunter Pence, San Diego's Ryan Ludwick and other outfielders.
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.
The Pirates played tough and impressed the Braves.
``They're a good team. They're a real good team,' 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 1/2 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.
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.
The Associated Press News Service
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