By MARK SCHMETZER
September 27, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Vance Worley throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Travis Snider felt for Jay Bruce. He also was happy to see the ball go to the wall.
Snider's scorching liner got past Bruce for a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning, and thePittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 on Friday night to keep the pressure on NL Central-leading St. Louis.
''Every once in a while, you hit one on the screws, and it has that knuckleball effect,'' said Snider, who started in right for the Pirates. ''It's a tough play for an outfielder. As an outfielder, you're going to see balls like that. I've hit a few.''
The Pirates have won five of six and 17 of 21 overall. They have already clinched a wild card and remained one game back of the Cardinals, who won 7-6 at Arizona in 10 innings.
Josh Harrison was aboard after a two-out single against Pedro Villareal (0-2) when Snider followed with a drive to right that Bruce overran, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Andrew McCutchen then doubled into the gap in left-center.
''Like a lot of times this year, I just whiffed,'' Bruce said. ''He hit it hard, and it's not the first ball that knuckled, but as I planted to redirect, I slipped.''
Jared Hughes (7-5) got the final two outs of the seventh for the win. Tony Watson pitched the eighth, and Mark Melancon finished for his 33rd save.
Mike Leake struck out eight in seven solid innings in his last start of the season for Cincinnati. The right-hander allowed one run - Gaby Sanchez's homer on the first pitch of the fifth - and three hits with two walks.
Leake also helped himself in the fifth. He doubled with two out and then ran through third base coach Steve Smith's stop sign on Kristopher Negron's single to center, beating McCutchen's throw with a slide that made it 1-1.
''Leake is not sneaking up on anybody in the league,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said. ''He's always ready to compete.''
Sanchez's drive to left-center field was his seventh homer of the season and first since August 14.
Pirates starter Vance Worley surrendered nine hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked none while throwing 74 pitches.
Harrison extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. The Cincinnati native set his previous career high of 13 earlier this season.
ON A ROLL
The Pirates are a season-high 16 games over .500 at 88-72.
McCutchen's double was his 38th, tying the career high he set last season, and the 200th of his career.
Leake's double was his career-high fifth of the season and his run was his career-high ninth.
Pirates: Manager Clint Hurdle's lineup was delayed while he awaited an update on the condition of first baseman Ike Davis. ''He has flu-like symptoms that are more than flu-like,'' Hurdle said. Davis did not play.
Reds: LHP Aroldis Chapman was day to day after he had trouble getting loose while logging his 35th save on Thursday, Price said.
Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano tries Saturday for his first career win in nine regular-season starts against Cincinnati. He is 0-5.
Reds: RHP Alfredo Simon tries to improve to 3-1 in four starts against Pittsburgh this season