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CLEVELAND — Asdrubal Cabrera's defense has been something the Indians could count on.
That's why it was so surprising when he committed a career-high three errors — two on one play — that led to four unearned runs in Cleveland's 9-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday.
The Indians lost for the fifth time in six games.
Pittsburgh scored three runs in the fourth following Cabrera's first error and five of the six runs in the fifth came after Cabrera's double error.
"It was a bad day for me," Cabrera said. "We lost the game right there on the errors I made."
It didn't help that Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer in both innings following the miscues.
"That made me feel bad, too, but there's nothing I can do," Cabrera said. "It (the errors) already happened. You have to finish the game."
Cabrera had three errors in 279 total chances going into the game. He hadn't committed an error since May 7, a stretch of 33 consecutive games.
"You want him to make every play, but that's impossible," said manager Manny Acta. "You have to realize he's won a lot of games for us with his glove. He's human."
"You're not going to see that team make three errors in a game very often," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We made them pay."
Cabrera's two-out throwing error in the fourth on Casey McGehee's grounder was followed by Alvarez's three-run homer that gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead against starter Jeanmar Gomez. Cabrera fielded the ball near second base and his throw to first baseman Casey Kotchman was wide.
The Indians went ahead with two runs in the bottom of the inning on Shin-Soo Choo's double, but the good news ended there. After Alex Presley's one-out homer tied the game at 4, the Pirates loaded the bases. McGehee sent what appeared to be an inning-ending double play grounder directly to Cabrera. However, he booted the ball for the first error and then scooped it with his glove toward second base, where it rolled past Jason Kipnis, for the second miscue.
"That was a perfect groundball for a double play," Cabrera said. "Gomez did a good job. I missed the ball so I tried to get it to Kipnis."
Instead of the inning being over with the game still tied, the Pirates led 6-4 and Gomez was done for the day. Alvarez followed with his second three-run homer off Esmil Rogers and the deficit was five runs.
The inning finally ended when Cabrera caught Clint Barmes' soft line drive and the crowd responded with a sarcastic cheer. His rocky day ended in the ninth inning when he lined a hit off the wall in right field. Cabrera, who said he thought the ball was going to be caught, didn't run at full speed out of the batter's box and was thrown out trying for a double.
The Indians had no answer for Alvarez in the series. He drove in a career-high six runs with his second two-homer game in two days. He recorded his fourth career multihomer game Sunday and also doubled, for his first game of three extra-base hits.
Gomez (4-6) allowed eight runs — four earned — in 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander hasn't pitched past the fifth inning in his last four starts.
"You can't put that on him happened today," Acta said. "If we made the plays behind him he was going to go deeper."
Tony Watson (4-0), the second of five Pirates pitchers, worked 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Kipnis had three hits and scored twice. He put the Indians ahead with two outs in the first inning by hitting his team-leading 11th homer, off Pirates starter Brad Lincoln. Kotchman's run-scoring single made it 2-0 in the second.
Michael Brantley, whose 22-game hitting streak was snapped Saturday, doubled home Kipnis in the seventh.
The Indians, 4-8 in interleague play, begin a three-game series against Cincinnati at Progressive Field on Monday night. The opener will feature an interesting story line with right-hander Derek Lowe set to take the mound. Lowe and Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker had a dispute when the teams met last week.
Lowe, who had to bat in a National League park, said an inside pitch from Mat Latos was payback for a personal issue between him and Baker from a few years ago, but offered no details. Baker hinted the following day that Lowe had been drinking at the ballpark at the time and didn't remember what happened. Latos is the Reds scheduled starter Monday.
NOTES: Kipnis has a streak of 15 consecutive stolen base attempts. He is 17 for 18 overall. ... Cleveland signed third-round draft pick, RHP Kieran Lovegrove from Mission Viego (Calif.) High School and assigned him to their rookie league team in Arizona. ... The last Cleveland player with three errors in a game was 3B Andy Marte, June 10, 2010. ... The Indians released RHP Hector Ambriz from their Triple-A Columbus roster and optioned LHP Scott Barnes to the Clippers.