BALTIMORE, JUNE 28 -- It has come to this for the Baltimore Orioles: Manager Frank Robinson today ejected one of his own players.

With relief pitcher Kevin Hickey warming up for the top of the ninth inning of a 7-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Memorial Stadium, Robinson went to home plate and removed catcher Mickey Tettleton, who refused to stop berating home plate umpire Larry Barnett about strike calls he made while Tettleton struck out looking in the bottom of the eighth.

It was the culmination of another frustrating loss for the Orioles, who begin a nine-game road trip having lost six of their last seven, seven of nine and 12 of 15.

The hot afternoon began getting got uncomfortable for the Orioles when pitcher Jeff Ballard needed just 3 2/3 innings to helped spot the Indians a 6-0 lead before a crowd of 33,449, pushing Baltimore past the 1 million mark in attendance after 34 dates, the earliest in club history.

Indians pitcher Al Nipper, a veteran seeking to resuscitate his career with a knuckleball, kept the temperature rising by slopping his way through seven-plus innings. He gave up five hits and two runs to gain his first major league victory in nearly two years and lower his earned run average from 12.79 to 7.43.

Finally, the mercury crashed through the top of the thermometer.

Tettleton "just wouldn't let it go," said Robinson, adding that Barnett "showed great restraint" in not ejecting Tettleton.

"I just said, 'Hey, come on. Let's go. Stay in the ballgame. Warm up your pitcher.' . . . He'd had his say. To continue to go at the umpire, there's not much else you're going to do. You have to concentrate on your pitcher and concentrate on getting people out. To do that you have to have your head in the game.

"I didn't think there was any way he was going to have his mind on the game itself. I didn't think it was in the best interest of the pitcher that he stay in the game."

The incident started after Randy Milligan walked against Nipper to lead off the eighth. With the score 7-2 and Tettleton coming up, Cleveland Manager John McNamara called in reliever Jesse Orosco. Tettleton took a called third strike and stalked to the dugout, and apparently began yelling at Barnett.

After a couple of minutes, Barnett called time, took off his mask and approached the Orioles dugout. He yelled and gestured toward the dugout, then returned to the plate.

After outs by Joe Orsulak and Cal Ripken ended the inning, Tettleton returned to the field. Shortly thereafter, Robinson came out. As the discussion between player and manager became more heated, Barnett walked away. Robinson gestured angrily at Tettleton, who appeared to be talking back to him. Finally, Robinson gestured toward the bullpen for catcher Bob Melvin.

Upon reaching the dugout, Tettleton slammed down his mask and helmet. He then disappeared from view and later declined to comment.

Robinson said he would meet with Tettleton before Friday night's game against the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome. The club flew to Minneapolis tonight. "When things cool off, we'll have a nice little conversation," Robinson said.

Barnett was critical of Tettleton, but said he was surprised about the way the incident concluded.

"That's the only {player} who said anything all day long," Barnett said, "and without enough guts to say it at home plate" immediately after the strikeout.

"Honest to God, I don't know what was said," when Robinson came out, Barnett said, "but I haven't seen that, not in 22 years."

"You have some tough decisions to make," Robinson said. "Tough situations come up. You have to deal with them. You can't walk down the middle of the road sometimes. You have to take a stand. It wasn't pleasant, I didn't enjoy it, but I did it. Whether it was right or wrong, I'll have to live with it."

Robinson also will have to live with Ballard (1-9), who has one victory in 17 starts since Sept. 24. Today the left-hander, who was 9-3 at this point last season, could not keep the ball down. He paid by allowing six runs on seven hits, including a home run. It was the 16th homer he has allowed in 87 innings this season, the same number he allowed in 215 1/3 innings last season.

In six starts since his only victory of the season, May 27 at Texas, he has an 0-4 record and a 7.34 earned run average.

Ballard departed with the score 5-0 and a runner on second. Brian Holton entered and allowed a run-scoring single to Jerry Browne.

Cory Snyder made it 7-0 by homering off Holton to lead off the sixth. It was his 12th homer and 36th hit in 91 career at-bats at Memorial Stadium.

Baltimore cut it to 7-2 in its half of the inning on a bases-empty homer by Milligan and run-scoring single by Craig Worthington. Milligan's homer gave him a single-season career-best 13. His 42 runs batted in this season leave him four shy of another single-season career-best.

Mike Devereaux's two-run homer off Orosco with one out in the ninth, his second homer in two games, made the score 7-4.

The Orioles had a bases-loaded situation in the third. But Steve Finley grounded into a force play at home and Bill Ripken grounded into a double play.

Orioles Notes:

Relief pitcher Joe Price has a lower back strain and did not accompany the club to Minneapolis. If he needs to go on the disabled list, the Orioles probably will recall pitcher Curt Schilling from Class AAA Rochester.