CLEVELAND -- The Indians were in the exact situation they wanted. They had a three-run lead in the 10th inning of Sunday's game against the Tigers, and All-Star closer Chris Perez was on the mound.
Perez retired the first two hitters he faced, and he appeared to be headed for his 30th save. But in a heartbeat, everything went awry.
Perez gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in the inning, including a walk-off two-run home run to Miguel Cabrera. What appeared to be a routine save opportunity for Perez turned into the Indians' ninth consecutive loss.
Afterward on Twitter, Perez called the game "the low point of my professional career." Indians manager Manny Acta, though, had only positive things to say about his closer on Monday.
"Chris is one of the best closers in the game," Acta said, "and if there is somebody who can bounce [back] from this, it's him because I've seen him do it, he's got the mentality for it. I saw him, the day before the All-Star break, blow a save here, and then the very next game he saved a 1-0 game in Toronto against three guys that combined had 60 home runs. So he can shake it off.
"He's going to have his failures here and there, but he's one of the best, and he's going to be fine. I hope I have an opportunity to get him back out there today."
Entering Monday, Perez had blown only three saves in 32 opportunities this season. He had a 3.83 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 43 appearances.
Stiff back keeps Hafner out of starting lineup
CLEVELAND -- Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner was out of the lineup for Monday's game against the Twins due to back stiffness. Hafner also missed Saturday's game against Detroit with the same injury after his back flared up during last Tuesday's game against the Royals.
Hafner turned in one of his best performances of the season in Sunday's 10-8 loss to the Tigers, going 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. It was Hafner's first three-RBI game since May 16 against the Mariners, and only his third of the season.
"He had a good game [Sunday], but his back is sore again today," Indians manager Manny Acta said Monday. "We'll give him the day off in order to have him for [Tuesday]."
Acta said Hafner has been working with a chiropractor, but team trainer Lonnie Soloff doesn't believe Hafner needs anything more than that. Hafner, who had knee surgery May 31 and missed more than a month, has played in only 60 games this season.
Hernandez to make one more Triple-A start
CLEVELAND -- Indians starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez pitched into the eighth inning in his Minor League start for Class A Lake County on Sunday.
Hernandez, formerly Fausto Carmona, allowed four runs -- all on solo homers -- on six hits over 7 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out nine and walked only one in a losing effort.
Hernandez's three-week suspension ends on Saturday, but Indians manager Manny Acta said the sinkerballer will make one more start for Triple-A Columbus on Friday before rejoining the big league roster. He has allowed a combined 10 earned runs over 17 1/3 innings in his three starts for Lake County and Columbus, while striking out 15 and walking three.
"They were happy with the way he threw the ball [Sunday]," Acta said Monday. "After the next start, chances are he'll be up here."
When asked if he felt ready to pitch in the Majors again, Hernandez said: "Yeah, I feel good." He hasn't pitched for the Indians since last Sept. 25 after being arrested in January for using a false name.
Tomlin pulls great escape in pressure spot
CLEVELAND -- Josh Tomlin got himself into a situation that seemed nearly impossible to escape.
Tomlin, who was recently removed from the rotation, came out of the bullpen to relieve Vinnie Pestano in the ninth inning of a tie game Sunday against the Tigers. Austin Jackson greeted Tomlin with a leadoff triple to right-center field, putting the winning run only 90 feet away with nobody out.
After Tomlin struck out Omar Infante, Indians manager Manny Acta made a creative decision. With sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder due up and two bases open, Acta decided to intentionally walk both of them. The Tribe skipper then removed one of his outfielders to add an extra player on the infield.
"We went up there and just said, 'Hey, we're going to let this kid beat you,'" Acta said. "'We're going to walk these two guys, and what you're going to do is just cut the ball into his hands the whole time because we're going to have a five-man infield.'"
Tomlin did what he was asked to do, and he got Quintin Berry to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"It was fun," he said. "It was one of the most intense situations I've ever been in in the big leagues. Obviously you don't want to be in that situation where you have a guy on third where that guy wins the game, but it's fun to go out there and try to compete in that atmosphere."
Added Acta: "He was perfect for that type of situation. He was as cool as you can be out there. He didn't show any emotion, and he really executed pitches."
Acta said last week that Tomlin would likely remain in a relief role for the remainder of the season. For now, that's just fine with the right-hander. Tomlin has allowed only one earned run over his first 3 1/3 innings out of the bullpen after going 5-8 with a 5.75 ERA in 16 starts.
"The only difference is you don't know which day you're going to pitch," Tomlin said, "and some of that is kind of good for some people.
"I definitely enjoy starting. I definitely would like to continue to start, but if you're not getting the job done, you've got to find a way to get outs. I wasn't getting the job done this year as a starter, so hopefully I can find that little niche in the bullpen and compete for a job next year."
Quote to note
"It's not tough to come to the park. It's tougher to go home. It's tougher to not take the game home with you. The game is a lot more fun when you're winning, but it's not tough to come to the park. You want to come to the park, because you want to stop it. You don't want to take a day off."
--Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano, on the nine-game losing streak
The Indians claimed right-handed pitcher Fabio Martinez off waivers from the Angels on Monday, and sent him to Class A (low) Carolina. The 22-year-old Martinez went 0-5 with a 10.72 ERA in eight starts for the Angels' Single-A affiliate this season. He has two remaining options after 2012.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said he expects injured outfielder Grady Sizemore to begin a minor-league rehab assignment in the next couple of weeks. Sizemore has currently advanced to running and hitting on the field, and he will begin on-field agilities later this week. He has not played this season.
Minor League pitcher Juan Nivar was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball on Monday for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Nivar is currently on the roster of the Dominican Summer League Indians.
Left-handed reliever Rafael Perez is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday after being shut down from his rehab on July 27. He hasn't pitched for the Indians since April 25.
Antonetti said there's an outside chance injured third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall could return late this season. Chisenhall has not played since fracturing his right ulna in a game against the Orioles on June 29. He is on the 60-day disabled list.
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.