The Baltimore Orioles are in this kind of streak: Their third baseman has made four errors in two games and misplayed about that many more grounders as their starting pitchers have been clobbered for 17 hits and nine earned runs in eight innings.

All of which has only made the games more interesting. Today, they had two homers from Larry Sheets, another from Cal Ripken, and 6 2/3 shutout innings from relievers Brad Havens and Don Aase to beat the Oakland A's, 8-6, before 7,747 at the Coliseum.

"It's an unbelievable game, isn't it?" Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said. "See what home runs do for you?"

With home runs and various other ingredients, the 27-17 Orioles won for the 15th time in 18 games to move 10 games above .500 for the first time this season and within 3 1/2 games of first-place Boston in the American League East.

Along the way, they've discovered perhaps the best bullpen in the American League and have been able to overcome almost any obstacle.

And a third baseman named Juan Beniquez has created an obstacle or two. For the second straight game, he made two errors and misplayed a couple more balls to help put the Orioles in an early 3-0 hole.

He's playing because the other third baseman, Floyd Rayford, is in a zero-for-22 slump that has dropped his average to .133. This from the guy who hit a team-high .306 last season.

Beniquez can hit, but he also can make every ground ball an adventure, and the more the Orioles hope balls won't get hit to him, the more they are. He had six slapped at him in the first three innings today, and he fielded three of them.

Yet as Weaver began to think about his lineup for Friday night's game against the California Angels in Anaheim, he didn't know where else to turn.

"I guess he'll be in there tomorrow, or at least until Rayford gets a couple of hits," Weaver said. "I don't know what the hell else to do."

Weaver could play Sneezy or Grumpy at third if the Orioles continue to hit home runs at this pace. After hitting 22 in their first 30 games, they have 21 in their last 14. They also have at least one homer in 14 straight games and hit six in sweeping this two-game series from the hapless A's.

Sheets, who hit three of the six in this series, had four RBI and the first two-homer game of his career today, connecting on a fastball from Chris Codiroli (3-6) in the second inning and a Codiroli slider in the sixth to give him six for the season. He was so impressive that he drew an intentional walk in the ninth as he raised his team-high batting average to .326.

The Orioles got 11 hits off three Oakland pitchers, including three from second baseman Alan Wiggins. They've had at least 10 hits in all six games of this trip and have raised their average from .256 to .268.

They needed every one of their runs today because, for the second straight day, a starter put them in an early hole. This time, Ken Dixon lasted 2 1/3 innings and gave up six hits and five runs -- and two more homers for 11 in his last 24 innings.

But when Weaver went to the bullpen, his problems were over. Havens (2-1) faced 14 batters and retired them all, five on strikeouts. Aase then got his league-leading 12th save and finished a game for the 19th time in 21 chances.

"I concentrated on what got me to the big leagues," Havens said. "I threw my curveball for a strike and spotted my fastball. Sometimes I have to remind myself what got me here. I know I can get my breaking ball over, and I have to do that to be effective."

The day didn't start well for the Orioles. In the first inning, Bruce Bochte doubled with one out and Carney Lansford was safe on the third of Beniquez's four errors in the series.

Dixon then put a fastball across the middle of the plate, and rookie Jose Canseco blasted it over the wall in right-center for his 14th homer and a 3-0 lead.

The Orioles came right back to make it 3-2 in the top of the second. Codiroli walked Ripken with one out, and Sheets hit his first homer.

The Orioles got a 5-3 lead in the top of the third when Wiggins bunted for a single and ended up on third thanks to Codiroli's throwing error. Lee Lacy got him home with a sacrifice fly to center.

Codiroli walked Fred Lynn, but Eddie Murray forced him at second. That's when Codiroli made another mistake, getting a fastball where he didn't want it, and Ripken hit it into the upper deck just inside the left field foul pole for his seventh homer of the season and a 5-3 lead.

But the A's came back to knock Dixon out with three in the bottom of the third. Lansford led off with a homer to left to make it 5-4. Canseco doubled to left, and after Dixon struck out Dave Kingman, Mike Davis doubled to left to score Canseco with the tying run.

That's when Weaver went for Havens, who got Alfredo Griffin to hit a grounder toward Beniquez, who threw him out but forgot to look at Davis. He scored all the way from second for a 6-5 lead.

That lead lasted two innings. Codiroli walked Ripken to lead off the sixth, and Sheets homered again, this time to dead right for a 7-6 Orioles lead, the one that held up.