"You want them to make every single play," Tribe manager Manny Acta said of Cabrera, "But you also need to step back and know that this guy has won a lot of games for us with his glove. You just have to understand that those are physical errors. Those are easier to swallow than the mental error.
"He's going to make a lot of plays for us. He's one of our best fielders. You want everybody to make every play. It's impossible. He just showed his human side today."
The first miscue came with the Indians (33-32) leading 2-0 in the fourth inning. Pittsburgh third baseman Casey McGehee sent a slow-rolling ground ball toward second base, and Cabrera's throw was wide of Casey Kotchman at first. Instead of recording the final out of the inning, the error allowed Pedro Alvarez to bat with runners on first and third. Alvarez, who killed the Indians in the series, crushed a three-run homer into the bleachers in right field.
Then, after Cleveland had regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth, Alvarez made Cabrera pay for his mistakes again. With runners on first and third, starter Jeanmar Gomez got McGehee to hit a ground ball to Cabrera. It appeared to be an easy double play opportunity to get Gomez out of the inning, but Cabrera bobbled the ball and then made a poor flip to Jason Kipnis at second. Cabrera was charged with two errors on the play -- one fielding and one throwing -- and two runs scored.
"He batted it to me," Kipnis said. "It bounced up and literally hugged the ground after that. I had my glove probably five inches off the ground, and it just literally rolled under it instead of bouncing up where I thought it was going to be. It was just one of those freak plays."
The inning extended, Alvarez got another chance, and he blew the game open with another three-run shot to right off reliever Esmil Rogers. The Pirates hit three home runs in the game, a day after they hit four out of the park in their 9-2 win. Alvarez had six RBIs on Sunday, and he hit four home runs in the final two games of the series.
While his players produced when they had to, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle knew he team caught a break.
"You're not going to see that team make three errors that often," Hurdle said.
Cabrera, who was still sitting motionless at his locker 45 minutes after the game, accepted the blame for the loss afterward.
"It was a really bad day for me," Cabrera said. "That was a perfect ground ball you need for a double play. We lost the game right there on two errors by me."
The Indians haven't been able to put everything together in the same game of late. On Saturday, they couldn't hit in timely situations. That wasn't the issue in the series finale.
Cleveland had 12 hits in the game, and scored four runs in the first four innings.
"We swung the bat well today and we probably scored enough runs to win the ballgame," Acta said. "Unfortunately, we struggled defensively."
With his team in one of its worst stretches since early April, Acta didn't have any quick solutions to offer as the Indians prepare for a three-game set with the Reds beginning Monday.
"You come out tomorrow and play baseball," Acta said. That's all there is to it. There are a few teams that I've had rougher times with than what we're having right now. They had had a rougher three months than we have had so far.
"These guys showed up today and were ready to win the ballgame, and a couple human, physical errors stopped us from winning. There's no magic potion for that."