The Baltimore Orioles put another game in the hands of reliever Mike Timlin tonight. And for once, Timlin threw strikes, kept the ball down and seemed poised and in control.

What he once more failed to do was win. Rob Butler singled home the winning run off Timlin in the top of the 10th inning to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 4-3 victory in front of 37,939 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

For the $16 million reliever, tonight was his eighth defeat. He also has eight blown saves -- tops in the American League -- and as much as any player represents the disappointment this season has become.

In losing for the 11th time in 13 games, the Orioles fell to 34-48 on a night when the game-time temperature was 105 degrees. In this stretch, they have lost seven one-run decisions and have had five blown saves. They are 6-23 against the AL East -- 1-9 against Toronto.

Tonight, they did many things right. Starter Scott Erickson allowed three runs in a solid seven-inning performance, and shortstop Mike Bordick and second baseman Jerry Hairston made a string of nice defensive plays.

"I know this is going to sound funny, but I'm really proud of our ballclub," Orioles Manager Ray Miller said. "The last two weeks we've played outstanding."

The Orioles lost because they were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and because they left runners on second or third base in four innings. They also lost because Timlin (3-8) made one mistake too many.

"I liked his demeanor," Miller said of Timlin. "He took a lot more time and looked a lot more focused. He basically was beaten by two ground balls and a stolen base."

Timlin entered the game when it was tied at 3 with one out in the ninth. He got two strikeouts to end the inning, but got into trouble in the 10th.

Homer Bush led off the inning with a single and stole second. He went to third on a wild pitch, then scored when Butler grounded a single through a drawn-in infield. If Timlin could afford to be encouraged, it was that he kept the ball inside the ballpark and that the hits he allowed were on ground balls that were just out of the range of infielders.

He was good enough that Miller summoned him into his office after the game and told him: "If you pitch like that all the time, you'll be fine."

Even Timlin seemed encouraged.

"I took another loss," he said. "I guess that's how things are going. Sometimes in baseball things like this happen. I like what I did on the mound. The result wasn't there, but I did some positive things."

David Wells went six innings and allowed three runs for the Blue Jays (43-42), but Graeme Lloyd got the victory with 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief. Billy Koch pitched a scoreless 10th for his 12th save.

Wells twice surrendered leads. Shawn Greene's 24th home run gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead in the first, but Wells gave it back when Hairston tripled and scored on Charles Johnson's sacrifice fly in the third.

Jacob Brumfield doubled and scored on Shannon Stewart's infield single in the fifth for a 2-1 Toronto lead, but Wells couldn't hold that one, either.

In the bottom of the sixth, Wells walked Bordick to lead off the inning. B.J. Surhoff popped to shortstop, but Albert Belle lined a single to center.

Bordick stopped at second. Harold Baines lined an outside fastball into the alley in left for a double. Bordick scored on the play to tie it at 2, and Belle went to third. Jeff Conine made it 3-2 by bringing Belle home on a groundout to second.

Erickson couldn't hold the lead, either. Tony Batista homered with one out in the top of the seventh to tie it at 3. It stayed that way until the 10th even though both teams had scoring chances. The Blue Jays left the bases loaded in the eighth when Bordick made two dazzling defensive plays to get reliever Arthur Rhodes out of trouble.

Then in the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles had two runners on base when Lloyd got Johnson to hit into an inning-ending double play.

"The pitchers pitched outstanding," Blue Jays Manager Jim Fregosi said. "I thought Erickson did a good job and so did David Wells. Considering the heat and everything, I thought it was a well-played game. Bordick made some great plays."

CAPTION: B.J. Surhoff went 0 for 5, snapping his 12-game hitting streak. It was only the second time in 35 games the Orioles' left fielder has failed to get a hit.