If the Baltimore Orioles did not win this game--and they did not--they really might go 0-162.

The winless Orioles tied an American League record by losing their 20th straight game Wednesday night, falling to Minnesota 7-6 when their two-run rally in the nineth inning fell short."We had a chance to make something happen tonight," Orioles manager Frank Robinson said.

Instead, they made history.

Baltimore can set the league record for consecutive losses Thursday afternoon against the Twins. The modern record is just ahead at 23, set by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1961.

It seemed to be the Orioles' night when they scored three runs in the first inning. Baltimore showed life, but had nothing to show for the effort.

"They were rooting and hollering like it was a World Series game," Robinson said. "But we're not looking for encouragement. We're looking for wins."

Even after the Twins broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth on leadoff homers by Kent Hrbek and Tim Laudner and then scored another on a walk, balk and throwing error, the Orioles weren't through.

With two outs in the ninth, Joe Orsulak singled and Billy Ripken walked. Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray met reliever Keith Atherton with RBI-singles, bringing up Fred Lynn with the tying run at third base and the potential go-ahead run at first.

"We figured the odds were in our favor," Robinson said. "We had the right guys up at the right time."

The hope again turned to disappointment when Lynn grounded out sharply to second base. Then, it was time for another long walk to the silent clubhouse.

"They showed a lot of character out there tonight. They're not just sitting back." Hrbek siad.

Hrbek's third homer in two games came against Bill Scherrer, 0-1, one of three players promoted from the minors this week.

"I almost feel like I've been here for all 20," Scherrer said, holding back tears. "Nobody likes to lose."

The Orioles' final rally came against Juan Berenguer, 3-2, and Atherton, who earned his first save of the season.

Baltimore, the poorest-hitting team in the majors at .194, including .110 with runners in scoring position, has been outscored 125-40 this season.

Scott McGregor, winless since last May 16, could not hold an early lead. The Orioles have lost six straight games at the Metrodome since McGregor decisioned Bert Blyleven last May 6.

Keith Hughes and Craig Worthington, promoted from Class AAA Rochester this week along with Scherrer, helped Baltimore take an early 4-2 lead. Hughes hit a two-out, two-run single in the first inning and Worthington opened the second with a 433-foot home run to center field, his first major-league hit.

The Twins scored twice in the first on leadoff singles by Dan Gladden, Tom Herr and Kirby Puckett and Gary Gaetti's sacrifice fly. Herr, recently traded from St. Louis to Minnesota, got his first AL hit after going 0-for-12 and scored his 500th major-league run before finishing with four hits.