CLEVELAND -- It was a "big picture" kind of night for the Angels, whose potential long-term gains could make a short-term loss seem less important in the long haul.
A ninth-inning lead, courtesy of a benchmark home run by Bobby Abreu, turned into a dramatic 3-2 Indians comeback triumph on Monday night at Progressive Field.
In a hushed clubhouse, Dan Haren could reflect on finding his groove with 7 2/3 dominant innings following a pair of subpar outings and a bout of back pain. Abreu, meanwhile, jolted his way out of a slumber and beyond Roberto Clemente, the king of Latin American ballplayers, in one important statistical category.
"This one is special to me," said Abreu, who passed Clemente on the all-time RBI list, with 1,306, courtesy of his two-run homer in the eighth inning. "You're talking about the pride of Latin American players. Talk about Roberto Clemente means a lot to me. For Latinos, that's the man. We followed the ones who opened the doors for us. He's the idol we wanted to follow."
If Abreu's blast off Vinnie Pestano on the heels of Maicer Izturis' leadoff single was the high point, the low was coming soon enough, as Jason Kipnis' two-out, walk-off RBI single against Hisanori Takahashi touched off an Indians celebration.
"Jason Kipnis couldn't pick a better spot to get his first hit in the big leagues," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
But it was what happened before Kipnis found the hole on the right side of the infield that turned it around for the Tribe.
Taking over the ninth in pursuit of his 24th save, Jordan Walden instead was charged with his seventh blown save and a loss when the Indians rallied with some exceptional hitting against the young flamethrower.
Leadoff hitter Michael Brantley drove a fastball the other way for a single. He stole second and scored when Travis Hafner also went the other way, sending a Walden heater to left-center for a double.
With a base open, Walden worked Carlos Santana carefully, and walked him. Then, with an 0-2 count, Walden hit Jack Hannahan with an errant slider.
"I don't know what happened with that slider," Walden said.
The closer vowed to come back strong next time out.
"I made two good pitches [to Brantley and Hafner], and they hit two good balls," Walden said. "I got beat tonight. You can't win every time. They can hit."
Takahashi replaced Walden, and manager Mike Scioscia went with his five-man infield, leaving right field unprotected. Travis Buck hit a chopper toward fifth infielder Torii Hunter, playing in the hole between first and second. Hunter made a lunging grab and cut loose, with catcher Jeff Mathis making a fine stab of his throw for a force at home.
"It was like, 'Geez, we can't even hit a ball over an outfielder playing infield in this situation?'" Acta said. "It was just a tough break. At first I thought, 'It's an outfielder, he's probably going to throw the ball away.' Torii is very athletic, and he made a very good throw."
Unfortunately, Hunter went back to right field with two outs, and the spot he vacated was where Kipnis sent his game-winning hit.
Haren recorded 10 strikeouts, allowing only five baserunners in 7 2/3 superb innings. A first-inning run was all Fausto Carmona and the Indians' bullpen seemed to need until Abreu went deep to right for his fourth homer of the season and first since June 22.
"I felt good at the plate," Abreu said. "I made good contact -- two line drives to right field and the homer. Before, I was jumping, hitting a lot of rollovers. I was more on top of the plate. Before, I was way too far off the plate."
Haren trailed three batters into the game. Brantley doubled to left and scored when Asdrubal Cabrera rolled a single through the right side.
Rebounding from what Scioscia described as "a little back stiffness," Haren settled in and dominated after Mathis shot down Cabrera trying to steal second.
Two walks and a bunt single were the sum total of the Tribe's offense from the second through the eighth innings.
Haren gave way to Scott Downs, who snared Austin Kearns' wicked liner to end the eighth. Haren's 123 pitches were exceeded this season only by the 125 he delivered in shutting out the Indians on one hit on April 12.
"It has been a little stiff the last two weeks," Haren said of his back. "I worked hard between starts to get the stiffness out, and today I got more extension with my pitches. You could see the results."
The Angels were frustrated by Carmona's hard sinker and some defense from an outfield that has been less than stellar.
A strong throw by Brantley in left on Vernon Wells' shot off the left-field wall erased the Angels' cleanup man trying to stretch a single leading off the second. Alberto Callaspo followed with a gap double to right-center, but Carmona escaped unscathed.
A one-out double to left-center by Mathis was followed by a walk to Hunter. But Abreu, who'd lined out to right on a superb play by Buck in his previous at-bat, sent a towering drive that backed Buck to the right-field wall for the third out.
"I hit it too high," Abreu said, grinning.
Carmona departed after six innings and 100 pitches, giving up four hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
Joe Smith silenced the Angels in the seventh before Pestano came on for the eighth, and Abreu greeted him with some history.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.