DETROIT, JULY 25 -- When the Orioles traded Larry Sheets to the Tigers in January, Baltimore Manager Frank Robinson called it "addition by subtraction."

Today, Sheets added to the Orioles' misery, hitting a two-run homer in the eighth to beat his former club, 4-3, in front of 23,684 at Tiger Stadium.

With the score 2-2 and Tony Phillips on second base, Sheets hit a full-count fastball from reliever Mark Williamson into the first row of the second deck in right field to hand the Orioles (47-50) their second straight loss following five straight victories.

"It was too good a pitch with first base open," said Williamson. "It was a stupid pitch."

The Orioles dropped to 4 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Toronto, which was scheduled to play Kansas City later in the day. Second-place Boston moved to within a half-game of the Blue Jays with a 2-0 win over Milwaukee.

Hard-luck starter Bob Milacki (4-7) took the loss -- he gave up the single to Phillips two batters before Sheets homered.

Orioles center fielder Mike Devereaux homered with one out in the ninth to close the gap to 4-3, but Phil Bradley and Joe Orsulak grounded out to end the game.

Devereaux homered in all three games of this series, including a grand slam in Monday's 13-3 Orioles win, their only one of the series.

Mike Henneman (6-6), whom the Orioles reached for six runs in two-thirds of an inning Monday, got the win for the Tigers. Jerry Don Gleaton got one out for his fourth save.

But the hero of the game was Sheets, who was traded to the Tigers Jan. 10 for shortstop Mike Brumley, who, when last seen, was hitting .217 for the Seattle Mariners.

Robinson's comment about Sheets at the time was none too flattering. But today he said the fact that it was Sheets who beat his club didn't make today's loss any harder to take. "It's no tougher at all," said Robinson. "It's no different than anyone else beating us."

In the other clubhouse, Sheets wouldn't go that far. "I'm not going to lie and say that it didn't mean anything," said Sheets, who also homered in Tuesday's 8-2 Detroit win, his first homer since June 8.

"But I'm trying to get away from thinking about it. I was making {a big deal of playing the Orioles} earlier, but it took me out of my game."

Sheets said that in Monday night's loss he was "trying to hit into the seats every time up," and that Tigers hitting coach Vada Pinson "told me that playing like that was doing me more bad than good. He straightened me out."

Robinson said the Orioles lost the series because his pitchers "just couldn't keep the ball in the park. You can't expect to win games when you can't keep it in the park."

Today, both the tying and winning runs came on homers.

Catcher Mark Salas homered off Milacki in the seventh to make it 2-2. Salas's shot made it just over the outstretched glove of right fielder Orsulak.

"I don't know how close I was," said Orsulak. "The sun was in my eyes. If I would have caught it, it would've been luck."

Salas has eight homers this year, all at Tiger Stadium; seven in the sixth inning or later.

Milacki pitched another good game, but again got no help from his teammates -- he leads the league with 11 no-decisions. He gave up five hits and three earned runs in seven innings.

"It seems like whenever I pitch a good game, the other guy does too," said Milacki, who has won only once in his last 10 starts.

"I don't want to complain or anything, but we just seem to go up against a good pitcher. It's the luck of the draw. And it doesn't help when I get behind {in the count} on hitters."

Milacki had feasted on the Tigers before today, compiling a 5-1 career record with two shutouts and a 2.38 ERA.

If it hadn't been for one very loud foul ball from the man who leads the major leagues in home runs and RBI, Detroit first baseman Cecil Fielder, Milacki might have been the one facing Sheets instead of Williamson.

With Phillips on first base and none out, Fielder hit a 1-1 pitch about 450 feet down the left field line, barely missing a mammoth homer.

That was all Robinson needed to see, lifting Milacki with a 1-2 count. The move looked golden when Williamson struck out Fielder on the next pitch.

But Sheets took advantage of Williamson's "stupid" pitch, and was in the mood to celebrate while circling the bases.

"That sort of ticked me off," said Williamson, whose 8-1 record is second in the major leagues in winning percentage (.888).

Orioles catcher Bob Melvin said the pitch wasn't a good one, but he emphasized the homer wasn't either. "He didn't crush it by any means," said Melvin.

With Henneman pitching the ninth inning, anything could have happened. In his previous two appearances, Henneman had given up eight earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Like Milacki, Tigers starter Steve Searcy was victimized by his team's inability to score runs. He threw seven solid innings, giving up eight hits and two earned runs while striking out seven, which tied his career high.

Devereaux was one of the few bright spots for the Orioles in this series. He batted .384 (five for 13) with three homers and eight RBI. In his last 22 games, he has hit 10 for 21 with teammates in scoring position.

Cal Ripken homered for the Orioles in the fifth, his 10th, and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Ripken came into the series with four hits in his previous 31 at-bats (.129).