BALTIMORE, JUNE 9 -- It was a laugher for the Baltimore Orioles tonight and nobody had more to laugh about than Randy Milligan.

The muscular first baseman rapped home runs his first three at-bats and collected a career-high six RBI as the Orioles pounded out nine extra-base hits and thrashed the New York Yankees, 10-1.

"It was a great night, a lot of fun, and I'm glad I did it in front of 45,000 people," Milligan said. "It's one of those things where you savor this night, because it might not happen again in my whole career."

The Orioles' fourth straight victory lifted them to the .500 mark for the first time since April 24. The Yankees, with their most one-sided defeat of the season, have lost eight in a row, their worst slide since 1985.

It was not a night to arrive late. Those in the crowd of 45,092 who were caught in traffic failed to see the Orioles end the suspense early with six runs in the first inning against Yankees left-hander Chuck Cary.

Milligan smacked a three-run homer off Cary, then exploited Andy Hawkins for a two-run drive in the second and a solo shot in the fourth. It was the 14th time a Baltimore player accomplished the feat, only the third time in front of the home fans.

Many of those fans booed when Hawkins walked Milligan on a 3-2 pitch in the seventh, but only a few headed for the exits. This was a night for enjoying every bit of the Yankees' agony.

"Before that last at-bat I was thinking about four homers, but Mac {batting coach Tom McCraw} told me just to hit the ball hard, stay within myself and don't get out of that groove by trying too hard," Milligan said. "So I just wanted to hit it. I wasn't swinging for a homer.

"I was having problems early this season, but Mac and I found a little flaw compared to the way I swung last year and we corrected it. Ever since, I've been hitting better. I'm seeing the ball very well and I'm reacting very well."

Milligan declined the crowd's demand for a curtain call until the noise obviously was affecting the next batter, Craig Worthington.

"That's not my style," Milligan said. "We don't want to embarrass the other team. But his at-bat was going on and I wanted the crowd to quiet down."

A brief shower cheated the Yankees out of batting practice for the second straight night, and right-hander Pete Harnisch limited them to four hits over eight innings. Harnisch struck out 10, most by a Baltimore pitcher since 1988, and Jose Bautista added No. 11 in the ninth.

"They've been scoring a lot of runs for me all year and it was great tonight," Harnisch said. "All I had to do was throw strikes and keep it down. I'd get ahead on fastballs, then give them the slider. The slider was biting good tonight and I got most of my strikeouts on it."

Harnisch retired the first 10 Yankees before Alvaro Espinoza singled in the fourth. He lost his shutout with two out in the fifth, on his only walk and a triple by Randy Velarde.

The last time Cary pitched here, on Sept. 24, he allowed only two hits over seven innings as the Yankees won by 2-0 and dealt a severe blow to the Orioles' pennant hopes.

Tonight Cary faced nine batters and was tagged for a homer, four doubles and a single. Doubles by Phil Bradley and Cal Ripken accounted for the first run and, following a walk to Mickey Tettleton, Milligan hit a 3-1 fastball over the fence in left-center.

Bob Melvin, Cary's teammate at Cal-Berkeley, got the pot boiling again with two out as he rapped a double off the wall in right. It ended a zero-for-33 stretch for Melvin at Memorial Stadium since September.

A double by Brad Komminsk and Bill Ripken's RBI single made it 6-0. The Yankees used seven pitchers in Friday's 5-4 loss, so Manager Stump Merrill called on a fresh face, Hawkins, to give the bullpen a rest.

Hawkins, 1-4 in nine starts, settled down after yielding homers to Milligan in the second, Komminsk in the third and Milligan in the fourth.

"At least we didn't have to go to the bullpen," said Merrill, 0-4 since replacing Bucky Dent on Wednesday. "These things are going to happen. You just have to put it behind you and hope it doesn't happen too often."

Baltimore Manager Frank Robinson gave slumping Cal Ripken a rest after five innings, only the 12th time Ripken has not been around for the finish during his 1,306-game streak.

"That might be the easiest night we've had," Robinson said. "We put some runs on the board early and Harnisch was in complete control."

Orioles Notes:

Bautista was recalled from Class AAA Rochester of the International League, where he allowed one earned run in 13 2/3 innings since May 27. . . .

Outfielder Brady Anderson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with ligament damage to his ankle. Anderson tripped over a batting-cage support before Friday's game. . . . Yankees right-hander Mike Witt, who left Friday's game in the second inning, joined the 15-day disabled list with a sore right elbow. His place on the roster was taken by right-hander Jim Jones, 5-2 this season at Columbus of the International League. Jones will start Sunday afternoon's game against right-hander Jay Tibbs. . . .

Perhaps the American League needs two designated hitters. Current batting averages show the AL at .257 and the National League, pitchers included, at .261. . . .

Bucky Dent already has lost his uniform No. 20 to shortstop Alvaro Espinoza. . . .

The Orioles have signed 20 of their selections in this week's amateur draft, including right-handed pitcher Michael Hebb of Anne Arundel Community College. . . .

After Sunday's game here, the Frederick Keys and Peninsula Pilots will meet in a Carolina League game at 5:30 p.m.