Nearly a year after Johnny Cueto dropped the ball, Jay Bruce simply missed it.

One reason the Cincinnati Reds are not playing meaningful baseball this fall is the poor performance of Bruce this season. Thought as of a core player for the Reds, Bruce has suffered through a dreadful season offensively and defensively, and it continued in a 3-1 Pirates victory Friday.

After Josh Harrison singled up the middle to extend his hitting streak to 14 games with two outs in the eighth inning, Travis Snider drilled a line drive to right field at Great American Ball Park off reliever Pedro Villarreal. The ball was hit directly at Bruce. Bruce took an awkward, zig-zag path to the ball, then slipped. The ball rolled to the wall. The play was ruled a double, but the misplay gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead as Harrison scored from first.

“I can tell (when a ball) knuckles just having played right field,” Snider said. “You hit a ball on the screws … and it has a knuckle effect.”

Harrison finished 1 for 4 and with a .318 average, one point ahead of Justin Morneau in the batting race. The Colorado Rockies played later Friday night. Andrew McCutchen followed Snider with an RBI double in the left-center gap to score pinch-runner Gregory Polanco to give the Pirates an insurance run.

The Pirates (88-72) have won 17 of their last 21 games and finished the game trailing the St. Louis Cardinals by a half-game for the division. While the Pirates at least cut their wild-card home-field magic number to one over the San Francisco Giants, a cloud hung over the victory as catcher Russell Martin limped to first after drawing a walk in the seventh. He was lifted for a pinch-runner.

Martin was visibly frustrated as he entered the dugout. He also was lifted from Wednesday's game in Atlanta after he felt hamstring “tightness.” He denied tweaking his left hamstring. Martin was in no mood to talk after the game.

Said Martin: “I'm fine.”

Said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle: “Some days are better than others. (Friday) it seemed to get tougher for him to get it loose.”

The Pirates scored first in the fifth inning when Gaby Sanchez homered off Mike Leake. The Reds answered in the bottom of the inning. Leake ripped a two-out double down the line off Vance Worley. Kristopher Negron followed with a single to center. McCutchen made a high-arcing throw home, allowing Leake to just beat a swipe tag from Martin.

After improving his arm last season, McCutchen's throwing has taken a step back. McCutchen posted a career-best 11 outfield assists last season after a winter of long-tossing. But this season he has just one outfield assist. His arm rates as the worst among center fielders this season, according to Baseball Info Solutions.