TORONTO, JUNE 6 -- They twist the plot and change the characters and shift the scenes, but the bottom lines are starting to look a lot alike for the Baltimore Orioles.
This afternooon, it was Jesse Barfield's three-run homer with two outs in the 11th inning that was the last but not the only big hit in the Toronto Blue Jays' 8-5 victory before 36,345 at Exhibition Stadium.
The homer cost the Orioles (27-27) their seventh loss in eight games and ended yet another day when it seemed they couldn't lose. Not after getting 16 hits off six pitchers. Not after forcing Blue Jays Manager Jimy Williams to use 19 of his 23 healthy players, including all 13 of his nonpitchers. Not after taking a 5-1 lead into the seventh.
And especially not after Ken Dixon (3-5) had manhandled Barfield twice, striking him out to end one rally in the seventh, then doing it to end another in the ninth.
But this day, virtually every Orioles weakness was sliced open. Dixon was once more alternately terrific and terrible. Although he did strike out Barfield twice, he also hung a 3-1 slider for the game-winning homer, this after being warned against throwing that very pitch.
Then there was catcher Charlie Moore, 33, who was just signed by the Blue Jays after hitting .207 in the Class A California League. Dixon put a fastball in Moore's wheelhouse in the eighth inning of a 5-3 game and dared Moore to hit it. He did, banging it off the left field foul pole for a 5-5 tie.
"I don't want to take anything away from Charlie Moore," Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr. said, "but he shouldn't be hitting a home run to tie the ball game."
Even Moore seemed stunned, saying, "I hope they don't expect me to do this every game. My knees were shaking when I first went up there."
Almost as incredible is that the Orioles left 15 runners, 11 of them in scoring position.
So Ripken wasn't just whistling "O Canada" when he set aside a bottle of Labatt's Blue and a turkey sandwich long enough to roll his eyes and tell reporters: "We had plenty of opportunities to score. We had many chances to win this game before the 11th."
This was also a day that the Orioles starting pitching was decent. John Habyan needed 103 pitches to get through five innings, but he only allowed a run on two hits and turned over a 5-1 lead to the bullpen. The Orioles, however, still have gotten six innings from a starter only once in the last 10 games.
In the end, they had too many missed chances. They left the bases loaded in the first inning and runners on third in the second, fifth, ninth and 11th.
Despite all that, they did get a 2-0 first-inning lead off Joe Johnson, but it's what they didn't get that hurt. Jim Dwyer (three hits, two runs) got a one-out double, and Cal Ripken Jr. (three hits, two runs) scored him with a single to center.
Eddie Murray followed with a single to right and, after Fred Lynn popped up, Ray Knight singled to left to score Ripken. Terry Kennedy beat out a hit to load the bases, and Williams brought in left-hander John Cerutti. Larry Sheets' grounder ended the inning.
The Blue Jays closed to 2-1 in the second, with Rance Mulliniks doubling and scoring on young Ripken's error. But the Orioles seemed to break open the game with three runs in the fifth. Dwyer and Ripken singled and, after Murray flied out, Lynn walked. Williams brought in Mark Eichhorn, who got Knight on a foul pop. But Kennedy's second infield hit scored one run, and Sheets' single to center scored two.
That was it for the Orioles. Eichhorn pitched the sixth. Gary Lavelle, pitching the first time since the 1985 American League playoffs, pitched the seventh and eighth, and Tom Henke the ninth and part of the 10th. Rookie Jeff Musselman (4-1) pitched the last 1 2/3 innings for the victory.
The Blue Jays (32-20) started their comeback in the seventh against Jack O'Connor when Moore led off with a double and Cecil Fielder walked.
Ripken Sr. brought in Dave Schmidt, who allowed Tony Fernandez's double for one run and Lloyd Moseby's infield grounder for another.
That made it 5-3, but with Fernandez on third Dixon struck out Barfield on three pitches to end the inning.
Dixon also got two quick outs in the eighth before Garth Iorg singled. He threw a strike to Moore before laying a fastball where he shouldn't have. Moore banged it off the left field foul pole for a 5-5 tie.
"That's the one that wasn't supposed to happen," Dixon said. "I threw one fastball by him, then tried another one. I think this pitching staff needs to start carrying a rabbit's foot in its back pocket."
For a while, it appeared Dixon would escape anyway, and he might have if the Orioles could have gotten him a run. He struck out Barfield with a runner on second in the ninth and had a one-two-three 10th.
The Orioles' last threat died in the 11th when Sheets flied to right with runners on second and third.
In the bottom of the inning, Dixon struck out Fielder and Rick Leach. Fernandez tripled, and Dixon walked Moseby so he could face Barfield, who hits right-handed.
When Dixon fell behind, 2-0, Manager Ripken sent pitching coach Mark Wiley to the mound to say: Don't do anything foolish; if you walk him, you can start over with the next guy (George Bell).
Dixon did something foolish anyway, hanging a slider in the middle of the plate.
"He didn't want to hang it," Ripken said. "I know he didn't."
Barfield said, "I don't blame them for walking Lloyd because he'd made me look bad. But he kept throwing to me, and finally went to the well once too often. I knew it was coming and got all of it."
Schmidt has replaced Scott McGregor in the starting rotation and will make his first start Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox at Memorial Stadium. He has made 14 starts in his career, but none since 1985 . . . Ripken Sr. switched his second basemen again today, putting Alan Wiggins in the starting lineup and Rick Burleson back on the bench.