BALTIMORE, AUG. 30 -- Whether or not Don Sutton is scuffing the ball, he certainly roughed up the Orioles.

Sutton pitched a six-hitter over seven scoreless innings today and, with the help of Wally Joyner's three-run homer, made for a bad day for the Orioles, who lost to the California Angels, 6-2, before 23,384 at Memorial Stadium.

Sutton picked up his ninth victory of the season and 319th of his career, breaking a tie with Phil Niekro for 11th place on the all-time list. And he was his old changing-speeds, ball-movement self today.

"I got ahead of them strikewise, or I was able to come up with something other than a fastball to get to strike one after I fell behind," Sutton said of his 76-pitch performance.

Over the final three innings he worked, Sutton retired the Orioles on nine, seven and five pitches. He didn't have a three-ball count after the fourth inning, or a 2-0 count after the second.

Eric Bell (9-11) gave up three homers and six earned runs in four-plus innings. Greg Minton pitched the final two innings, allowing a two-out, two-run single to Mike Hart in the ninth.

Bell's in a slump; he didn't win a game in six August starts and was 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA.

"It may be a learning process for him, but now he's going to have to go out and learn from these experiences and not make those pitches with two strikes. The season isn't over in August, it goes on through September," said Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr.

On Sutton, Ripken growled: "I don't doubt that he scuffs the ball but the umpires were out there . . . Evidently, they didn't feel he was scuffing the ball, {and} they're in control of the game."

Sutton overcame a shaky start. He loaded the bases in the second with none out, walking Terry Kennedy and giving up singles to Larry Sheets and Ray Knight. But Mike Young struck out, Hart grounded to Doug DeCinces at third forcing Sheets at home, and Jim Dwyer struck out.

In the fourth, Kennedy and Young singled with one out, but Hart flied to right and Dwyer popped out to Boone.

And that was about it for the Orioles. They were three up and three down over four of the final five innings.

Tony Armas, who has been hitting .172 since being called up from Class AAA Edmonton Aug. 17, gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the third with a leadoff homer to left, his second.

In the fourth, the Angels went up, 2-0, after Johnny Ray, making his first start since being acquired from Pittsburgh Saturday, doubled in George Hendrick, Devon White going to third.

Joyner then fell behind 1-2 but nailed Bell's next delivery deep in the right field seats for his 27th homer of the season and a 5-0 lead.

"We're back to making bad pitches again. We can't do that," Ripken said.

"That's just like a curve," catcher Kennedy said of the high changes Bell threw on his three homers today. "If you get them up it's easy to hit. Take those three pitches away, and he really didn't do that bad otherwise. I think he's still learning his own ability, learning about himself, about seeing things from his side."

Brian Downing made it 6-0 in the fifth with a homer that hit just inside the left field foul pole.

A bright spot for the Orioles today was Jack O'Connor, who came on after Dick Schofield doubled in the fifth. He gave up two hits, no runs in five innings.

But the day belonged to California, which took two games from Baltimore after the Orioles had won nine straight during the season. And the game belonged to Sutton, who drew a grudging tribute from Kennedy.

"I know he scuffs the ball. So what? What really ticks me off is that our guys don't know how to do it," he said, with a straight face.

Orioles Notes:

With three homers allowed today, the Orioles set a club record (180) for most homers allowed in a season . . . Baltimore's record in rookie starts this season is 16-24 . . . Kennedy was two for three, breaking a one-for-16 slump.