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CIN@TB: Bruce belts a solo homer to tie the game late

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tuesday's thriller against the Rays just felt like the type of game last year's Reds would have won.

But that was last year, and the karma from that division-winning club wasn't present during a tough 4-3 loss to the Rays that was decided on Evan Longoria's walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Logan Ondrusek.

The Reds have been dealt two losses this season on walk-off homers -- both on this road trip. The first came on Friday at Baltimore, when Derrek Lee went deep in the bottom of the 12th.

"These are certainly tough to take," manager Dusty Baker said. "We've had a few of these, especially on the road. We'll get over that hump some day. We played a great game. It was a great game to watch."

Reds starter Johnny Cueto and Rays starter David Price matched each other with electrifying performances into the eighth inning. However, the best drama was saved for the bullpens at the very end.

"Interesting game, both starting pitchers were fabulous from both sides," Rays skipper Joe Maddon said. "Their guy was really impressive and so was ours, the way that game played back and forth."

Price was perfect into the fifth and dealt the Reds seven scoreless innings while taking a 1-0 lead into the eighth. Drew Stubbs led off with a triple to the wall that B.J. Upton couldn't get to. Edgar Renteria's lined single into left field scored the tying run.

With two outs, Renteria stole second base to get into scoring position. Joey Votto, who struck out twice earlier against Price, sent a 1-2 pitch to the wall in left field, scoring the go-ahead run. It came on the 119th pitch of the night for Price, who finished with two runs and six hits allowed over 7 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out 12 in a no-decision.

"It was big-time clutch, because he was tough on Joey and tough on everybody tonight," Baker said. "That's some of the best stuff that we've seen. He did it with mostly fastballs and changeups."

Cueto, who worked 7 2/3 innings, gave up back-to-back one-out singles to John Jaso and Sam Fuld in the Rays' eighth. He was taken out by Baker after getting the second out. Lefty Bill Bray came up to face Johnny Damon, who lifted a high popup to no-man's land between three players in short left field. From shortstop, Renteria ran back to get the ball and yielded as left fielder Chris Heisey came running in at full speed. Center fielder Stubbs was also in the vicinity.

Heisey attempted to make a diving catch, but the ball kicked off the end of his glove and toward center field as both runners scored.

"I needed another two inches or so to get my glove underneath it, but I did all I could," Heisey said. "Sometimes that happens. It was just perfect placement. I was even playing way in on him, and he snuck it in there. He hit it off the end, and it didn't stay in the air long enough for the three of us to get underneath it."

Momentum quickly went back in the Reds' direction again in the ninth. Leading off, Jay Bruce sent a 3-2 pitch from closer Kyle Farnsworth over the center-field fence for the game-tying homer. Farnsworth came in with only one blown save in 17 chances, while Bruce snapped an 84 at-bat streak without a long ball.

It didn't take long for the next heartbreak. Leading off the bottom of the ninth against Ondrusek, Longoria drove an 0-1 pitch to deep left field and out of the park. The crowd of 20,894 at Tropicana Field was ecstatic before the ball cleared the fence. Longoria was mobbed by his teammates at home plate after circling the bases.

"It's a tough one to drop," Bruce said.

The Reds fell to 11-17 in one-run games -- after being 27-27 in such affairs last season -- and 22-19 in games decided in the last at-bat. The season is exactly half over, and through 81 games, fourth-place Cincinnati is 41-40 and 3 1/2 games out of first.

"I'm hoping [when] the first half is over, we'll find out the second half will have a lot more breaks than we got in this half," Baker said.

The Reds will need a win in Wednesday's finale to finish with a .500 record on their six-game road trip.

Cueto, who allowed only four hits and one walk while striking out six, certainly deserved better. He allowed no hits through three innings while facing the minimum until Damon provided the Rays' first hit with a homer to right field. After that, Cueto retired 13 of the next 14 until Jaso's single in the eighth.

The owner of a 1.84 ERA, Cueto has not allowed more than three runs in any of his 10 starts. He's given up more than two earned runs only three times.

"He's as good of a pitcher as I am," Cueto said of Price via an interpreter. "I don't see him. I just go there and pitch. [Miguel] Cairo was messing around with me before the game and said, 'Hey, when you pitch, you're going to pitch against Price.' I said, 'He's going to pitch against Cueto.' I'm a good pitcher. I'm going to pitch my game and he's going to have to pitch his game."

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