It happened again. They took Chief Noc-A-Homa's tepee out of Atlanta Stadium and the Braves went from 6 1/2 games ahead to arrears of the Dodgers in the NL West.

Owner Ted Turner & Co., defying the powers that may have dictated the 1982 swoon of 19 losses in 21 games shortly after removal of the tepee, removed it from the left field bleachers again this month to make room for 250 seats. So. Since declaring the mascot's tent had to go, the Braves have lost 11 of 17 ball games; lost captain Bob Horner for the season, and lost replacement Jerry Royster for 21 days, to injury.

"We disclaim a jinx," say the Braves (through P.R. Director Wayne Minshew). "We don't believe in hexes and curses."

Many fans do. They've flooded Minshew's office with phone calls. Monday, the team returned from a long road trip to a stadium replete with homemade tepees, including one in the center field seats made of sheets and a bunch of little ones made into megaphones, courtesy of a grocery chain. No dice. Cubs 7, Braves 5.

"Even my mother said put back the tepee," says Minshew. No, says Turner . . .

The Orioles, picking up outfielder Tito Landrum to complete the Floyd Rayford deal, have sold OF Elijah Bonaparte (.273) off the Rochester farm to the Cardinals' Louisville affiliate. Right-handed batter Landrum (.261 in 268 AB with St. Louis, 1980-82) hit .292 at Louisville, led the American Association with 12 triples--and played on the first minor league team to draw 1 million.