BALTIMORE, JUNE 11 -- The time bomb that has been Cal Ripken Sr.'s temper finally blew tonight.

It went off as his Baltimore Orioles were on their way to an 8-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, their eighth straight defeat and one that knocked them to 27-32 and 11 games out of first place in the American League East Division.

The Blue Jays (37-20), the league's hottest team, tied a club record by rolling to their ninth straight victory, which opened up a three-game lead in the AL East. They had their biggest sluggers in gear, with George Bell continuing his run toward the American League MVP award with six RBI and two home runs, including a fifth-inning grand slam -- the third against the Orioles in two nights.

Bell now has 23 homers and an amazing 60 RBI. He leads the major leagues in RBI, homers and slugging percentage.

Toronto starter Joe Johnson (3-5) allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings for the victory; reliever Tom Henke pitched the ninth for his 11th save.

What many of the 17,409 at Memorial Stadium may remember, however, is that in the last of the eighth inning, Ripken stormed out of the dugout to protest a strike call against Cal Ripken Jr. by plate umpire Larry Barnett.

He was on the field about five minutes and, by the time he had left, he had screamed and stomped and cursed and screamed some more. The result was his second ejection of the year, and he may have missed his first suspension by inches because he and Barnett clearly bumped one another, which is a managerial no-no.

"The man ran into me," Ripken said after the game, still angry. "He knocked my hat off. I guess he was going to walk over the top of me. I'm not allowed to touch him, so I don't feel he should be allowed to walk into me."

"{Ripken} was over in the dugout ranting and raving," Barnett said, "and I'm not going to let anyone do that. I know he was frustrated, but I get frustrated, too."

Of the bump, Barnett said, "We ran into each other, so I'm not going to write him up for that."

Ripken's protest came an inning after the Orioles had cut a 7-1 Toronto lead to 7-6. But his team proceeded to lose it in the end, continuing their longest losing streak in more than five years. Plus, he had seen another starting pitcher get battered as rookie John Habyan allowed seven runs in 6 2/3 innings.

At least the Orioles made it exciting tonight. Trailing, 7-1, going into the seventh, they rallied for five runs, three on Mike Young's fifth homer.

But, in the end, they lost their 12th in 13 games. The worst thing for Baltimore is that club officials have no idea about how to solve their pitching problems. They've tried three pitchers from the minors and have talked to 25 teams about making a deal, but have nothing to show for it.

One minor deal does seem possible. The Orioles are considering offering a contract to veteran left-hander Bob Shirley, who was released by the New York Yankees last week. There's a chance the club may ask Shirley to throw in front of a scout, but with so many pitching problems, it appears Shirley will at least be offered some kind of deal.

This much can be said for Habyan: Although he didn't pitch well, he did pitch into the seventh inning, and other than Mike Boddicker, no Orioles pitcher had done that since May 6.

After falling behind, 2-0, in the first inning, he pitched well for three innings. In the first, Tony Fernandez led off with a double to right, went to third on a groundout by Rance Mulliniks and scored on a groundout by Jesse Barfield. Bell followed by homering on an 0-2 pitch to make it 2-0.

Fred Lynn's first homer since May 22 closed it to 2-1 in the fourth, but then came the top of the fifth.

With two outs, Fernandez bounced a triple off the center field wall. Habyan then walked Mulliniks and Barfield to load the bases and went to 1-1 on Bell before throwing a fastball down the middle.

Bell turned it into a towering homer that landed in the bleachers behind the Orioles bullpen. That made it 6-1.It went to 7-1 in the seventh, when Mulliniks singled and eventually scored on Bell's single.

"I hung a slider to Bell for the slam," Habyan said. "I'd set him up with two fastballs inside, and did the right thing, but I got the pitch in a bad spot. I felt good, otherwise, but I just have to bear down. I don't buy this on-the-job training. I've got to bear down now."

The Orioles' comeback started against Johnson in the seventh. Ripken led off with a single and, after Eddie Murray popped out, Larry Sheets singled. Ray Knight doubled to left for a run to make it 7-2, and Toronto Manager Jimy Williams brought in left-hander Jeff Musselman to face left-hand-hitting Terry Kennedy.

Kennedy beat out a hit to make the score, 7-3, and Musselman got behind Young, 2-1, before Young's homer closed it to 7-6.

The Blue Jays scored their last run in the ninth on Kelly Gruber's fourth homer.