The two errors in a span of three at-bats in the third inning led to an unearned run for Atlanta that was the difference as the Pittsburgh Pirates fell to the Braves 4-3 on Sunday.
The errors helped Atlanta's Tim Hudson a win in his season debut and helped give Kevin Correia his first loss.
The Pirates led 2-0 after a two-run single in the second inning by Jose Tabata, who had three hits.
The two errors helped launch Atlanta's comeback.
With one out in the third, McCutchen dropped Hudson's fly ball to center field for the first error. After Michael Bourn walked, Alvarez bobbled Martin Prado's grounder at third base for another error. Hudson scored on Freddie Freeman's sacrifice fly, cutting the Pirates' lead to 2-1.
McCutchen couldn't explain why the ball didn't stick in his glove. The sun glared off his sunglasses, but he appeared set for a routine catch.
"I don't know what really happened," McCutchen said. "Routine fly ball. Just missed the ball. You shake your head.
"I hate that it happened. We had two errors that inning. ... We didn't get the job done. I didn't get the job done. (Correia) doesn't deserve that loss. I wish I could take it for him."
Added Alvarez: "We have to make the plays behind him. If we make the plays, it's a different story."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said it was an uncharacteristic defensive lapse for his team.
"We had been rolling for over a week playing really good defense," Hurdle said. "It was just today we put two on in one inning. You give a team five outs, you're lucky to get out of it with just a run."
Hurdle called McCutchen's drop "just a miss."
"The ball gets in the sun a little bit but you think you've got it," Hurdle said. "It doesn't happen very often but it does happen, even up here."
Hudson (1-0) pitched in the majors for the first time since his operation last November to repair a herniated disc. The right-hander threw 96 pitches while giving up two runs on six hits and two walks. He allowed at least one baserunner in every inning.
Hudson gave a mixed review of his performance.
"It wasn't a great day from me, stuff-wise, but I feel like it was step better from me than my last time out, my last rehab start," Hudson said.
Hudson's return was especially important to the Braves' rotation after Jair Jurrjens' struggles earned him a demotion to Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday.
"Everybody was pumped up," said Martin Prado, who hit his second homer off Brad Lincoln in the seventh.
The Pirates stranded 10 runners, including eight against Hudson.
"We were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and seven innings we had runners in scoring position, so there were plenty of opportunities to come up with more than three runs," Hurdle said.
Craig Kimbrel gave up one run in the ninth before earning his eighth save. Tabata hit a one-out double, advanced to third on McCutchen's groundout and scored on Kimbrel's wild pitch. Kimbrel struck out Garrett Jones to end the game.
Michael Bourn had three hits and a walk for the Braves.
Correia (1-1) gave up two earned runs on four hits and five walks in 4 1-3 innings. He walked three batters in the fifth, including a bases-loaded pass to Dan Uggla that snapped a 2-all tie.
The Pirates loaded the bases in the second on singles by Alvarez and Michael McKenry and a walk to Alex Presley. Tabata drove in two runs with a single down the right-field line.
Tyler Pastornicky's double to left-center off Correia in the fourth drove in Uggla, who walked.
Jonny Venters, Atlanta's third reliever, ended the eighth by striking out Josh Harrison with two runners on.
NOTES: Presley was 0 for 4 as his 12-game hitting streak ended. ... The Pirates ended their streak of seven straight wins when scoring more than one run. ... Braves C Brian McCann returned after missing only one game with a strained muscle in his right side. ... The five walks were one below Correia's career high. ... Braves LHP Mike Minor will look for his third win when he faces James McDonald in Monday night's final game of the four-game series. The Braves, who have won two of the first three, will try to win their sixth straight series since losing three straight at the Mets to open the season.