CLEVELAND — Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been forgiven.
Cabrera, who cost the Indians a game by committing three pivotal errors Sunday, atoned Tuesday night by clouting a two-run walk-off home run in the 10th inning to beat the Reds 3-2 at Progressive Field.
Cincinnati had taken the lead in the top of the inning on a wild pitch from reliever Nick Hagadone before Cabrera’s blast changed the tide.
Making the win even more significant was that it returned the Indians to the top of the Central Division standings, where they lead the White Sox by a half-game.
“It was a great win, very dramatic,” manager Manny Acta said. “Two of the top hitters on our team stepped up and had tremendous at-bats. (Cabrera) is our best hitter. He’s proven that. He gives you a quality at-bat.”
Against the stiffest of competition in Cincinnati’s flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman, the Indians began the rally with a one-out single from Shin-Soo Choo. Just five pitches later, Cleveland was celebrating a victory and a series win when Cabrera drove a 3-1 fastball from Chapman over the wall in right-center field.
“I just tried to be ready and put a quality swing on it,” Cabrera said. “I hit it hard. I know that’s the pitch that he likes to throw. I was ready for it.
“I don’t show the emotion, but as soon as I hit it, inside, I was (happy).”
Chapman, who began the season with 24 straight scoreless appearances, entered the game with a 4-2 record and microscopic 1.06 ERA. Cleveland also snapped the left-hander’s consecutive strikeout streak at 34 games — dating to last season.
Offense was at a minimum for much of the night, with both starting pitchers — Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin and Cincinnati’s Mike Leake — surrendering just a run apiece.
Tomlin’s outing began on shaky ground, with the right-hander allowing a run two batters into the game.
But Tomlin found a groove and shut out the Reds on just three hits over the next five innings by retiring 14 of the 17 hitters.
“He made the adjustment,” Acta said. “He had a very good breaking ball tonight.”
It was a pleasing sight for Tomlin and the Indians, as he has struggled for much of the season. He entered the night with a 3-4 record and 5.56 ERA in 10 games (nine starts), and allowed six runs on 10 hits over four innings in his previous start, which came against Leake and the Reds last week.
“It was important, because I need to locate my pitches,” said Tomlin, who struck out two and walked two. “That’s been the biggest issue for me.”
Tomlin didn’t make it out of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs. Reliever Esmil Rogers came on to strike out Devin Mesoraco to end the inning with the game still tied at 1.
“That was a huge out,” Acta said.
The game stayed tied until the 10th. Pinch hitter Willie Harris delivered a leadoff double off Joe Smith, but was erased at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt from Zack Cozart that went back to the mound. Cozart was erased on a fielder’s choice from Chris Heisey.
Heisey advanced to second on Hagadone’s first wild pitch of the inning, then scored on another errant offering from the Cleveland left-hander after advancing to third on an infield single from Joey Votto.
With the momentum firmly entrenched on the Cincinnati side, the Indians beat the odds to record their third walk-off win of the season.
“These guys are very confident,” Acta said. “They always feel like they can do it. It was a very emotional win.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.