Batting from the right side, Cabrera ripped a two-run, walk-off homer into the bleachers in right field to give the Indians a 3-2 win over the Reds at Progressive Field. It was the Indians' first walk-off win since May 17 against Seattle, and coupled with the White Sox loss to the Cubs, it put the Tribe back in first place in the American League Central by a half-game.
On Sunday, Cabrera was the goat after committing three errors in a 9-5 loss to the Pirates. Two days later, he played the role of hero for an Indians club that refused to go away.
"This guy is our best hitter," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's proven that. He's got the discipline at the plate. He gives you a quality at-bat, and he uses the whole field -- that's why he's so good."
The Indians (35-32) fell behind, 2-1, in the top of the 10th, when Chris Heisey scored on a wild pitch by reliever Nick Hagadone. The left-handed Hagadone came in to face slugger Joey Votto with a runner on first and two out in the 10th. Hagadone's first wild pitch allowed Heisey to move to second, and he went to third when Votto beat out an infield single.
Then, after working ahead of Brandon Phillips, another Hagadone pitch got away from catcher Carlos Santana, and Heisey scored from third. Hagadone eventually got Phillips to fly out, but the damage had been done.
"There's a lot of adrenaline going on," Acta said of the wild pitches. "[He's] got probably the best hitter in the National League [Votto] as hot as he is right now. ... He went after him, but he tried to amp up a little bit with that fastball there and overthrew the catcher, and it ended up hurting him."
Cleveland's chances looked slim after the top of the 10th considering Chapman was coming in to close the game. The Reds closer entered the game with a minuscule 1.06 ERA.
But the Indians, who also continually came from behind in their 10-9 win on Monday, mounted a late rally against Chapman.
Following a Lonnie Chisenhall flyout to begin the 10th, Shin-Soo Choo singled to right field for his third hit of the night. That brought Cabrera to the plate, and he didn't miss a fastball that Chapman put over the middle of the plate.
"Great win. Very dramatic," Acta said. "Everybody remembers the walk-off by Cabrera, which was a great at-bat. But Choo before him had an outstanding at-bat just by working the count and laying off pitches, and eventually getting the single, getting on base."
The feelings from the other side, however, weren't as favorable.
"The game goes from jubilation to a downer in one swing," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "That's a tough one to lose."
The Indians' late rally made a winner out of Hagadone, who was ready to forget his struggles after the game.
"That's huge," he said of the walk-off. "To get the win takes away any negative feelings [from giving up the run], because that's all that really matters."
The Indians may have won the game with offense late, but they stayed close because of solid defense and pitching. Reliever Esmil Rogers got Cleveland out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, and Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez each pitched scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth.
They threw in relief of Josh Tomlin, who turned in one of his best outings of the season. After giving up two consecutive hits and a run to begin the ballgame, Tomlin settled in and shut down the potent Reds offense. He retired the next eight -- and 14 of the next 16 -- batters he faced, and allowed only the one run in 6 2/3 innings.
"It was important because I have to locate my pitches," Tomlin said. "That's the biggest thing for me, that way I can go deep into games. I was able to establish the inside part of the plate, and after that it was just locating the offspeed stuff for strikes."
The Indians can earn a split in the Ohio Cup with a win in the series finale Wednesday night -- the Reds swept the Indians last week at Great American Ball Park.