Dempster (2-4) yielded one unearned run and four hits, striking out five while walking two, for his first win since beating Houston on the road on April 8. He had been 0-4 in nine starts since the victory.
"That's as good command as I've had all year," said Dempster, who was making his second start after a 15-day stint on the disabled list with an inflamed nerve in the right side of his neck. "Even both my walks were 3-2 and I had pretty good pitches that just missed."
"We're all excited to see Dempster pitch the way he did," Reds manager
said. "We've been waiting for that for a long time. He had some physical setbacks but that's the way I expect him to pitch all the time."
Dempster left after allowing a one-out walk to
and a ground-rule double to
in the seventh. Anderson would have scored the tying run on the play had his hit just inside the left field line not bounced into the picnic area.
"I owe Gabe a case of beer, he's saved me so many times this year," Dempster said.
"Gabe's been pitching that way in a lot of those situations and he did it again tonight," Boone said.
Williamson pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save and third in the three-game series.
Reds starters had been 2-11 with a 7.28 ERA in 24 games since
blanked St. Louis on May 14, 4-0.
snapped a 1-1 tie with his 15th homer of the season, a shot to left against
(2-2) on the second pitch of the sixth inning.
Kearns stole home in the second for the first Cincinnati run.
Cincinnati (33-32) has won four of five games to move above .500 for the first time since it was 24-23 on May 22.
Kearns led off the second with a single, advanced to second on
's bunt single and reached third on
's flyout. Boone then stole second, and Kearns narrowly beat shortstop
's throw to the plate to score the game's first run.
"(Third base coach
) had told me to try and get a good jump," Kearns said. "As soon as it looked like (Boone) was going to second, I took off."
Tampa Bay tied the game in the bottom of the frame. With one out,
reached safely on a fielding error by shortstop
and advanced to third on a double by
hit an ground ball that would have plated Hall anyway but Dempster threw wide of home, allowing Liefer to reach second. It was the Reds' major league-high 66th error of the season.
But Dempster quickly redeemed himself. The pitcher fielded Lugo's grounder and tagged out Martin between third and home, then threw to third baseman Boone, who tagged out Liefer to end the inning.
"This is kinda unbelievable," Tyner said. "If we need seven (runs), we score six. If we need three, we score two. I don't know what it is. It's a team thing. We have to make those little plays that don't seem important at the time, but you look back later and realize that it was."