BALTIMORE, AUG. 12 -- The formula that has provided the Orioles with wins of late proved toxic tonight. A starter was knocked out -- again -- but this time the young bullpen couldn't cover and the Cleveland Indians won, 8-6, as 19,566 watched at Memorial Stadium.

Once again, the homer did in the Orioles. The Indians hit five, none of them cheap, against three Baltimore pitchers. This was the Orioles' fourth such five-homer experience of the season.

Joe Carter hit his 25th and 26th homers of the season, but Cory Snyder stayed atop the Cleveland leader board with his 27th and 28th. Throw in a four-bagger by Brett Butler and you've got a league-leading 168 homers -- allowed.

Cleveland scored in all but the fifth and eighth innings, and was retired in order just once.

Darrel Akerfelds pitched five innings to get his first major league victory and Doug Jones, the fourth Cleveland pitcher, came on in the eighth to get his third save. Mike Griffin (2-5) absorbed the loss in relief of starter Ken Dixon.

Dixon only lasted three innings plus, giving up eight hits and four runs in 59 pitches. And he reclaimed the team lead in homers allowed, offering up three tonight to push his season total to 27.

"He didn't throw the ball with good velocity tonight. It might have been one of those days where he didn't have it, I don't know," Baltimore Manager Cal Ripken, Sr. said.

"I was a little tight. It was hard to get loose, but it's not something I haven't experienced before," Dixon said. "I made some mistakes. Two of the home run balls were up and one was on a 3-2 pitch {to Butler}, and I had to go to his strength."

Dixon came into the game allowing a homer on the average of every 3.2 innings. When he left, after giving up three homers, the average was down to 3.1 innings -- the worst in the majors.

Butler started it with his fourth homer of the season. It was the 25th homer given up by Dixon, who is becoming as synonymous with homers as Superman is with Lex Luthor.

But Baltimore got it all back and more on Eddie Murray's three-run shot off Akerfelds, who was not sharp. Akerfelds fell behind four hitters in the first inning and 12 out of 22 hitters overall.

Murray's homer brought him out of a mini-slump (no RBIs in his last six games, with 10 strikeouts in his last nine games) as he deposited a first-pitch fastball in the right field seats for a 3-1 Baltimore lead.

Cleveland scored in the second on singles by Mel Hall, Brook Jacoby and Andy Allanson. In the third, Carter hit his first homer of the night, tying the game on a hit that looked like it would go foul but ended up high in the left field seats, about 12 rows from leaving the stadium.

"When I hit it, I thought it might hook foul, but it straightened out. He took something off his fastball, I believe. Luckily, it was only 309 {feet} down there to get out," Carter said.

Snyder gave Cleveland the lead in the fourth with his first homer, on what he said was a change-up that got up. One batter later, Ripken Sr. brought in Griffin, who got out of the fourth without a run.

But after Cal Ripken Jr. hit a two-run homer in the fifth to put Baltimore up, 5-4, Griffin couldn't hold the lead. He also had a bit of tough luck, as Ripken Jr. committted a rare error with two on to bring in the tying run.

"Give him another 5,000 chances and he picks it {up} 5,000 times. Everybody's human," Griffin said.

But Baltimore, with two errors tonight {Knight came up too soon on a grounder in the first}, now has committed nine errors in the last five games after making only three in the previous 14 and 67 for the season.

After Ripken's error and a bunt single by Butler to load the bases, Tommy Hinzo knocked in the game-winner by hitting into a 4-6-5-2 double play. Bill Ripken threw to second to force Butler, and Cal Ripken Jr. caught Allanson off third for a Ray Knight-Floyd Rayford rundown.

Offensively, Cal Ripken Jr. broke out of out of a 12-game, six-for-49 slump in which he hit .122. Tonight, he was three for four, including the homer, his 22nd. "He hasn't been swinging the bat that badly. Tonight, he hit a couple where you couldn't catch them," Ripken Sr. said.

Cleveland made it 7-5 on Snyder's second homer, this one on a slider up. The homer came off John Habyan, who had come in for Griffin in the sixth.

Baltimore closed to 7-6 in the seventh, when Ripken Jr. doubled and Murray drove him in with a single. But they left the tying run on in the eighth, and Carter hit his second homer of the night in the ninth.

Jones pitched one-hit ball over the last two innings.

Orioles Notes:

Dixon has now given up 10 homers to lead off an inning at Memorial Stadium . . . Rayford started because Ripken Sr. believes Terry Kennedy is tired. Kennedy hasn't homered in six weeks and has struck out 18 times in the last 17 games.

Kennedy said he asked to be spelled tonight. "It was one of those things where I was mentally fatigued. I can take the physcial. Last night, I was gassed mentally. My mind was mush. It happens to me occasionally when I've caught a few games in a row," Kennedy said . . .

Including Dixon's start tonight, Orioles pitchers are 1-4 with a 7.51 ERA in the last 55 1/3 innings . . . Tonight marked the first back-to-back losses at home since June.

Royals 2, Yankees 1:

In Kansas City, Steve Balboni lined a home run into the left field stands in the eighth inning to give the Royals a victory that completed a three-game sweep of New York.

Charlie Leibrandt (12-9) lowered his American League-leading ERA to 2.61. He allowed eight hits and three walks. He struck out six. Rick Rhoden (14-8) allowed 11 hits.

Rhoden got two outs in the eighth inning before Balboni sent a 1-0 pitch into the left field stands for his 16th home run of the season. It was also his third game-winning hit.

New York fell 2 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto in the AL East and Kansas City pulled within four games of the West Division lead. New York has lost four straight and six of its last seven.

New York had the tying run thrown out at the plate to end the game. Juan Bonilla walked with one out, and Wayne Tolleson pinch-ran. One out later, Roberto Kelly lined a pitch to the left-center wall. Shortstop Ross Jones' relay from left fielder Lonnie Smith nailed Tolleson in a close play.