ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Ubaldo Jimenez didn't give the Orioles a quality start tonight by definition. One run in 5 1/3 innings falls short of it. However, he left Tropicana Field with a victory, which ultimately is all that matters.
"I was not 100 percent," he said following a 3-1 win over the Rays that completed a three-game sweep. "I was missing with my fastball and my breaking ball. That's why I threw too many pitches. But I was able to hang in.
"It was a good one because when I saw myself have 50 pitches in the second inning I was like, 'Wow, this is going to be a long one.' So I told myself I have to find a way to cut back on it and go as long as I can."
And turn over the game to a bullpen that bent in spots but didn't break.
"It's been great," he said. "Especially tonight. You saw what they did. All of the guys that came in the game, they stopped the runners from advancing, they stopped the runners from scoring.
"As a starting pitcher, we want to go deep. We are not doing it right now, but hopefully we will find a way to turn it around because we are putting a lot of it in their arms right now."
Jimenez is 2-0 in May after losing all four April decisions.
"Feels good," he said, smiling. "I am really happy April is gone. Now we are in May and everything is really good."
It keeps getting better for Steve Pearce, who had two more hits tonight, including his second home run.
"To me, it's huge to finally get the opportunity to play and show guys what I can do," he said. "It was a great team win. We needed that."
His play at first base in the fifth inning, lunging to catch Jonathan Schoop's relay and complete the double play, was just as big as the home run.
"That was huge," he said. "It was bases loaded at the time. If that ball had gotten past, it could have cleared the bases."
A sweep makes for a happy flight home before beginning a three-game series against the Astros.
"It's way better," Pearce said. "It's nice to have that, especially going back home to play Houston. I'll take that."