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Originally published Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM

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McCutchen homers as Pirates top Nationals 4-2

Andrew McCutchen had four hits, including his second home run in as many nights, to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.

AP Sports Writer

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PITTSBURGH —

Andrew McCutchen had four hits, including his second home run in as many nights, to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.

Brad Lincoln (2-0) earned the win in relief of starter Erik Bedard, who was lifted three pitches into the second inning due to back spasms.

Joel Hanrahan survived a shaky ninth to pick up his sixth save as the Pirates won consecutive games for the first time since April 17-18.

Ross Detwiler (3-2) allowed three runs and seven hits with four strikeouts in six innings for Washington. Ian Desmond had two hits and Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy knocked in runs for the Nationals, but they couldn't stop Washington from dropping its third straight.

Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper went 0 for 4 with a walk and popped to shortstop with the tying run on second in the ninth.

Washington had its chances to rally in both the eighth and ninth. The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against Jason Grilli, but Grilli struck out Danny Espinosa and Rick Ankiel to end the threat.

McCutchen, who failed to homer in his first 90 at-bats this season, provided some insurance in the eighth with his second homer in 24 hours.

The Pirates looked as if they would need it when Hanrahan, who blew a save on Tuesday, again struggled. He hit pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi with one out then gave up a double to Desmond.

In stepped Harper, still looking for his first major league home run. He swung for the fences while falling behind 0-2 then popped meekly to shortstop.

Ryan Zimmerman followed and worked the count full before striking out on a 96 mph fastball from Hanrahan.

The victory gave the Pirates something they haven't had in awhile: momentum. Save for a brief two-game slide in St. Louis last week, Pittsburgh has alternated wins and losses in each game.

The Pirates hoped Bedard would give them a boost. Instead the oft-injured left-hander was lifted after throwing a fastball to Adam LaRoche in the second inning. Bedard grabbed his side after letting the pitch go. He tried to stretch for manager Clint Hurdle before being sent to the dugout.

Enter Lincoln, a spot starter turned long reliever. He gave up an unearned run, one hit and four strikeouts and one walk in three innings while dropping his ERA to 0.63.

Lincoln reached on a strikeout and wild pitch with one out in the third, moved to third when Jose Tabata's grounder caromed off Detwiler's foot past second baseman Espinosa. Neil Walker and McCutchen followed with RBI singles with McCutchen capping the inning by racing home on a slow roller to short by Casey McGehee.

Desmond grabbed the ball and looked to first before pulling it down. He then faked a throw to third, which McCutchen had already streaked past. Desmond reloaded and threw home, but McCutchen slid under the tag to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead.

Nady, making a start in right field in place of injured Jayson Werth, put Washington on the board with an RBI single in the fourth and Tracy's pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the seventh pulled the Nationals within 3-2.

NOTES: Injured Washington reliever Drew Storen could begin a throwing program by the end of the week. Storen hasn't pitched all season while recovering from bone chips in his right elbow. Manager Davey Johnson said he's hopeful Storen and closer Brad Lidge - recovering from abdominal surgery - will be making rehab appearances by the end of the month ... The series concludes on Thursday when Washington's Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.66 ERA) faces Pittsburgh's Kevin Correia (1-2, 3.38) ... Pittsburgh outfielder Alex Presley, mired in a 3-for-28 slump, didn't start for the second straight game while he works in the batting cage.

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