CINCINNATI -- David Price got the four at-bats he wanted, but he came up two outs short of a shutout while leading the Rays to a 2-1 win over the Reds on Friday.
In victory, the Rays snapped their Interleague losing streak at five games while winning for the first time in four games at Great American Ball Park.
Tampa Bay is now 2-2 on its current nine-game road trip.
Price told reporters prior to his start that he wanted to get four at-bats, which would mean either the team was hitting or that he pitched deep into the game.
Well, the ace of the Rays' staff got his wish. Despite taking the collar and going 0-for-4 -- the last at-bat manager Joe Maddon forbid him to swing -- Price couldn't have been happier. He just wished he had back the fastball he threw to Joey Votto.
Protecting a 2-0 lead with one out in the ninth, Price surrendered an 0-1 fastball to Votto, who deposited the pitch into the left-field stands to chase Price.
"[Catcher] Jose [Molina] called a curveball on the 0-1 to Votto, but I was having trouble seeing [the signals] all night," Price said. "I thought he called fastball away. That stinks, but it's just one of those things. And, obviously, we didn't cross up Votto."
Making his third start of the season, Price held the Reds to one run on four hits and a walk while striking out 10 in 8 1/3 innings to move to 2-0.
Though Price was pitching in an early-season game, Maddon did not mind letting him take the mound in the ninth. He had gone from 90 pitches at the end of six, to 101 after seven and 107 after eight.
"So I thought he was in pretty good shape," Maddon said. "More concerned about Votto, so I wanted him to pitch to Votto. And he gets the [strikeout] on Brandon Phillips and Votto hits the homer. That's how it works sometimes.
"But he was really good. Working everything. He brought the curveball into the latter half of the game. Fastball velocity maybe not as great, but really good movement. ... Good changeup. He just had a really nice mix and him and Jose Molina did a nice job together."
Price made a favorable impression on Reds manager Bryan Price.
"He was aggressive in the zone," Bryan Price said. "He commanded both sides of the plate. He didn't walk people. It's a difference-maker. He challenged guys in the zone.
"He was able to move the ball in and out. He had a real good changeup, which I think was really a difference-maker that he could throw any time in the count. He had a handful of 3-2 strikeouts so he had some big pitches."
Grant Balfour took over for Price after Votto's homer hoping to nail down the final two outs. But after he struck out the first batter he faced, Ryan Ludwick, the game got interesting.
Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier drew walks before Devin Mesoraco stepped to the plate carrying his .455 batting average with him. After Balfour got behind 1-0, he threw a wild pitch that allowed the runners to move to second and third. At that point, Balfour decided he would not let the hot-hitting Mesoraco beat him, so he pitched around him to load the bases and bring pinch-hitter Brayan Pena to the plate.
Balfour caught Pena looking at a fastball for strike three to end the game and earn his third save of the season.
"Tonight wasn't one of my better nights, as far as executing the pitches," Balfour said. "I guess you have to say I executed them when it counted at the end there."
Johnny Cueto started for the Reds and showed why he's one of the National League's best. He just couldn't best Price.
Evan Longoria singled off Cueto in the first to score Desmond Jennings from second and give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Matt Joyce added to the lead when he powered a 452-foot homer to right off Cueto in the third, putting the Rays up 2-0.
Cueto allowed two runs on five hits and four walks while striking out six in seven innings, giving him a quality start in a losing decision, as he fell to 0-2 on the season.
Cueto has "got great command," Maddon said. "He pitches off the edges on purpose. He definitely knows what he's doing. He does not want to throw the ball over the plate. He will not do it unless he has to, and he can do it whenever he wants. That's what I saw."
Price put the win in perspective.
"That was a big game for us, coming off an off-day yesterday and losing the series in Kansas City," Price said. "It was good just to get out there and set the tone for the rest of the series."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.