Bailey (13-10), who had previously thrown just two complete games in his six-year career, made baseball history with the help of a questionable scoring decision in the third inning.
After retiring the first six men he faced, Bailey gave up a sharp ground ball down the third base line to Clint Barmes leading off the third.
Scott Rolen, who had been playing on the infield grass while guarding against a possible bunt, lunged to his left and had the ball skip off his glove into left field. Despite the difficulty of the play, Rolen was given an error.
The only other base runner allowed by Bailey came when he walked Andrew McCutchen with one out in the seventh. McCutchen was promptly erased on a double play.
Cincinnati's lone run came on a sacrifice fly by Todd Frazier in the first inning. That gave the hard-luck loss to A.J. Burnett (16-9), who gave up seven hits over eight innings.
Three of the seven no-hitters thrown during the 2012 season have been perfect games -- authored by Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox, Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants and Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners.
The sensational performance by Bailey only added to the late-season miseries suffered by the Pirates, whose chances for their first winning season in 20 years melted away during the last two months. Friday's loss was Pittsburgh's 81st of the year, officially ending its hopes for a winning campaign.
This was the 15th no-hitter in the history of the Cincinnati franchise and the first since Tom Browning threw a perfect game in 1988.