ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — 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.