BALTIMORE, AUG. 29 -- At least the Baltimore Orioles were fashionable losers tonight.

The Orioles unveiled their orange jerseys for the first time this season in an attempt to reverse their recently pitiable fortunes, but the players who filled them looked distressingly similar to those who have been less resplendent but equally unproductive for the past 3 1/2 weeks.

The result was a familiar one -- a 3-2 defeat to the New York Yankees before 22,887 on a rainy night at Memorial Stadium.

Anthony Telford probably pitched well enough to win in his third major league start, allowing six hits while registering seven strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. But the rookie surrendered home runs on consecutive pitches in the sixth inning to Matt Nokes and Kevin Maas, and reliever Jeff Ballard allowed Nokes's run-scoring single an inning later for the third run charged to Telford.

And that was enough to beat the Orioles. Baltimore managed just five hits off starter Tim Leary -- the losingest pitcher in the majors -- and relievers Lee Guetterman and Dave Righetti, who permitted Tim Hulett's pinch-hit homer in the ninth but registered his 29th save nonetheless.

The Orioles have batted .222 as a team in the past 22 games -- 16 of them losses -- and are hitless in their last 27 at-bats with men in scoring position after going zero for six tonight.

The defeat was the team's fifth straight, tying a season high, and 11th in 14 games. The Orioles have been outscored, 37-13, in the five-game skid and by 50-15 in their last six losses.

Baltimore fell to 59-69 and 12 1/2 games behind victorious Boston in the American League East. Only the Cleveland Indians' loss to the Red Sox kept the Orioles out of sixth place. The cellar-dwelling Yankees (56-73) won for the third straight night here and are now just 3 1/2 games behind the Orioles.

Most frustrating to Manager Frank Robinson was an eighth-inning rally that was killed by a pair of fundamental mistakes. Leary walked David Segui and pinch hitter Sam Horn to begin the inning, but Steve Finley struck out against Guetterman after twice failing to put down a bunt, and Segui was doubled off second on Brady Anderson's flyout.

"We can thank Segui," New York Manager Stump Merrill said.

Robinson was less blunt but still distressed at his club's lack of execution. "We didn't do a couple of things tonight that could've helped ourselves win the ballgame," he said. "We made two glaring mistakes, and things like that are really magnified when you're going like we are."

Baltmore did have a rare lead, forged in the third inning on Mike Devereaux's leadoff double off Leary (8-16) and Billy Ripken's one-out, run-scoring groundout.

Telford (1-1) was struggling, but managed to keep the Yankees at bay for a while by battling out of a two-on, no-out jam in the second and escaping unscathed in the fifth by striking out Roberto Kelly and Oscar Azocar after two walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases.

But his good fortune ran out in the sixth. Telford's 1-0 pitch to Nokes was a chest-high fastball that the Yankees catcher slammed into the right field bleachers for his second home run in three nights here and 11th of the season.

His next offering was a curve he left belt high to Maas, who clubbed his 16th homer (in his 165th at-bat) on a high drive that landed just beyond the spot where Nokes's souvenir still was being admired. The blast broke Maas's longest homerless drought -- 30 at-bats -- in his record-breaking rookie rampage.

"It feels good," Maas said. "The guys had been getting on me about how long it had been."

Said Telford: "After I gave up my first big league homer {to Nokes}, I decided the next pitch was going to be a strike. It was a strike, but he hit it a mile. I give him the credit for going down and getting a not-so-bad pitch."

The blow gave New York seven home runs in the series. The Orioles have yielded 31 homers in their last 22 games and have served up at least one gopher ball in eight consecutive contests.