MINNEAPOLIS, JUNE 30 -- The Baltimore Orioles might -- repeat might -- be turning themselves around again.

Bob Milacki threw a three-hitter, several players supplied run-scoring hits with two outs, and the Orioles defeated the Minnesota Twins, 6-0, tonight at the Metrodome.

The victory, Baltimore's second in two nights here and third in four games overall, gave the club consecutive victories for the first time since it won four straight June 6-9.

The Orioles, who will complete a three-game series here Sunday night, also assured their first series victory since they went 2-1 against the Yankees on June 8-10 in Baltimore. They had not won a series at the Metrodome since May 1987.

The victory, combined with losses by front-running Boston and second-place Toronto, moved Baltimore within 9 1/2 games of first.

"It's a very good start to an important road trip for us," said Orioles Manager Frank Robinson, whose club also has three-game series in Texas and Chicago before the all-star break. "But to say we've turned it around after two wins, you don't want to get carried away."

Milacki did. Going against the American League's second-leading hitting team, he walked two, struck out four and faced 29 batters -- two more than the minimum -- in his first complete game of the season. He needed only 95 pitches to earn his first victory in five starts and first complete-game shutout since he threw a three-hitter in a 2-0 victory in Detroit on Aug. 15, 1989.

"It was a tremendous outing on his part," Robinson said. "He got into a groove in about the second or third inning and he was able to hit his spots with every pitch he threw."

Said Milacki: "The key was getting ahead of the hitters. It was a game that can give me a lot of confidence, especially after the last few games."

His work was backed up by left fielder Joe Orsulak, who threw out Kent Hrbek at home plate with two out and the score 3-0 in the fourth inning, and clutch hits from Randy Milligan, Steve Finley and Bill Ripken.

Cal Ripken played his 72nd consecutive game without an error, tying the AL overall and major league single-season records for shortstops set by Detroit's Ed Brinkman in 1972.

Milacki (4-4) entered without a victory since June 3, but he had performed well in his most recent start. That was a 7 1/3-inning effort last Sunday at Fenway Park in which he allowed two runs on nine hits. The right-hander did not walk a batter in the game, which he entered with questions surrounding the health of his right shoulder.

Tonight, he walked two in the second inning, but left a runner on third. Al Newman singled with two out in the third but was caught stealing. Hrbek doubled with two out in the fourth, but Orsulak nailed him by plenty after Gary Gaetti singled.

Milacki was all but perfect the rest of the way.

"He was throwing his fastball on both sides of the plate and he was getting his breaking ball over, which makes his fastball even more effective," catcher Bob Melvin said.

"Early, I didn't think he had his best stuff, but he had really good control tonight. At the end, his fastball was as good, probably better, than it was in the first two innings."

Minnesota starter Scott Erickson, 22, made his second major league appearance since being called up from Class AA Orlando on June 21. Last Monday he allowed Texas one run on four hits and two walks in six innings.

But tonight the tall right-hander with a 90-plus mph sinker was struggling. He struck out three during the first two innings, but left after 6 1/3 innings having allowed five hits, six walks and a hit batsman. Two of the walks and the hit batsman led to runs as the Orioles took a 3-0 lead on Tim Hulett's groundout and Milligan's two-out single in the third, and Finley's two-out single in the fourth

Reliever Terry Leach entered in the seventh after Mickey Tettleton reached on an error by first baseman Hrbek, and Orsulak doubled off the right field fence. Since the score was still 3-0, Minnesota Manager Tom Kelly had Leach intentionally walk Cal Ripken to load the bases

Melvin followed with a chopper toward third. Third baseman Gaetti charged the ball, but did not have a play at the plate on Tettleton. Bill Ripken made it 6-0 with a single to right that gave Baltimore four RBI in two-out situations.

"I don't know about them {the players}, but I can sleep a lot better," batting coach Tom McCraw said as he munched on his postgame meal. "The food tastes a little better."

Said Robinson: "Those hits make a big difference. They take a lot of wind out of the other team's sails because they are one pitch or one play from getting out of it. Plus, it pumps your team up too."

So does good starting pitching, something Milacki had not been providing. Doctors diagnosed muscle weakness in his shoulder, but Milacki insisted he could pitch through it while changing his exercise program and method of treatment. Robinson began to wonder, but stuck with Milacki.

"What you have to do is be patient with these guys," Robinson said. You have to understand their situations and go with them as far as you can. Hopefully it pays off in good performances."

In the last 12 games Orioles starters have averaged more than seven innings per outing and have a combined 3.34 earned run average. Only once in the last 14 games has a starter failed to complete five innings.

"They're doing the things they're capable of doing," pitching coach Al Jackson said. "They're not over their heads. Like tonight, Milacki pitched the way he's capable of pitching. There's nothing phenomenal about it."