NEW YORK, JUNE 18 -- Scott McGregor got back in the Baltimore Orioles' starting rotation, not because he deserved it, but because they had no one else. So, even though they made the move, the Orioles were under no illusions about his ability to win in the big leagues.

Tonight he lasted 3 2/3 innings and ushered the Orioles to a 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees before 23,225 at Yankee Stadium.

McGregor (2-7) allowed the Yankees six runs and eight hits and was scored upon in each of the four innings he went to the mound. His ERA for the season is 6.06 and, in his last five starts, he has been even worse (0-5, 10.70).

He has become a shadow of the once-dominant pitcher, the one who is second to only Detroit's Jack Morris in victories this decade (107) and is hanging onto a roster spot because he has two more seasons at $1 million-per-season remaining on his contract.

He buried the Orioles (28-39) deeper into a season that, lacking a dramatic turnaround, will be their worst in 33 years.

They haven't simply collapsed. They're dead in the water at a time when they most needed to win. Since beginning a stretch of 26 straight games against the American League East, they're 1-13 and are in sixth place, 13 games out of first. Incredibly, they are 1-19 against the five teams ahead of them.

Since Sept. 14, 1984, are 73-127 (.365) against the rest of the American League East and, if they need evidence that they must undergo an extensive rebuilding project, this probably is it.

The loss is their 15th in 18 games and completes a four-game sweep for the Yankees (41-25). That's the 13th time the Orioles have been swept in the last 12 months. By comparison, they were swept 11 times in the four seasons before that.

Tonight, the Yankees got 10 hits, three of them by Ron Kittle. They pecked away at McGregor with two runs in the first, single runs in the second and third and two in the fourth. The biggest hit was the last, Henry Cotto's two-run homer.

Rick Rhoden (8-4) pitched five scoreless innings, then Cecilio Guante continued the shutout until the ninth, when RBI hits by Larry Sheets and Lee Lacy produced three runs.

Tim Stoodard got the last out for his third save.

McGregor has been knocked out 26 times before the fifth inning in his last 80 starts, and he was gone early again tonight after facing 20 hitters and getting 10 of them out.

He walked Willie Randolph to lead off the game, and that set the tone for the game. Randolph went to second on a wild pitch and stole third.

After Cotto popped out, Randolph scored on Gary Ward's infield hit.

Dave Winfield singled to left and Kittle's single made it 2-0. An inning later, the Yankees made it 3-0 on back-to-back doubles by Randolph and Cotto.

In the third, it went to 4-0 when Winfield got a leadoff walk and eventually scored on Lenn Sakata's double-play grounder.

In the fourth, Tolleson singled and Cotto homered to right-center for a 6-0 lead.

That was the end of McGregor's night, and reliever Tony Arnold followed with 3 1/3 shutout innings, thus making himself a candidate for the starting rotation. Tom Niedenfuer pitched the eighth.

Meanwhile, the Orioles did nothing with Rhoden, who faced 18 hitters in five innings and allowed one runner as far as second.

That was in the fourth when the Orioles had Lynn and Cal Ripken Jr. on with one out, but Rhoden struck out Eddie Murray and Larry Sheets.

The hardest ball hit off Rhoden was Mike Young's single off Rhoden's left knee to start the fourth. Rhoden limped about the mound and finished two more innings before Manager Lou Piniella brought in Guante.

Orioles Notes:

The team is believed to be close to an agreement that would move spring training operations from Miami to Melbourne, Fla., in 1989.

Club officials weren't commenting today, but it is known they've become increasingly unhappy with Miami because of a shortage of housing, fans and media coverage . . .

McGregor and Mike Boddicker held a skull session with rookie pitchers John Habyan and Eric Bell to discuss the importance of location, pitch selection and changing speeds . . .

Niedenfuer hasn't been the replacement for Don Aase the Orioles had hoped he'd be. He he has allowed 28 base runners in 11 innings and homers in four of nine games . . . Neither has Tony Arnold. He has inherited 16 base runners and allowed 10 of them to score . . .

Murray has one RBI in his last 16 games . . . Randolph has 42 RBI, s, which is more than he had in seven of his first 11 seasons.