Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez delivers during the first inning of a 3-1 victory that gave the Orioles a three-game sweep at Tampa Bay. Jimenez won his second consecutive start. (Chris O'Meara/Associated Press)

Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter often talks about how difficult it is to win games on the road in the American League East.

On Thursday night, however, the Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the division-rival Tampa Bay Rays with a 3-1 victory in front of an announced 11,076 at Tropicana Field.

The Orioles (18-14) returned home from their six-game road trip to Minnesota and Tampa Bay a season-high four games above .500.

They also came home with the AL East division lead — one-half game ahead of the New York Yankees — and have won 11 of their past 17 games away from Camden Yards.

Baltimore, which has won all five games against the Rays this season, also recorded its first three-game road series sweep since sweeping the Texas Rangers last July.

Steve Pearce, filling in for injured slugger Chris Davis, provided the biggest hit of the night, a two-run homer to left field off Rays starter David Price in the second inning.

Pearce also made an impact with his defense, stretching to snag an off-line throw at first base to complete an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth inning.

Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez lasted just 51 / 3 innings but won his second start in a row, allowing one run and seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks. He loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning but induced a 6-4-3 double-play ball from Evan Longoria, a play that ended with Pearce extending his body and backhanding a one-hop throw at first base from second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

Darren O’Day allowed back-to-back singles to open the ninth but got Jennings to ground into a rally-killing double play, then ended the game with a groundout by Matt Joyce to Pearce at first.

— Baltimore Sun