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Nick Pivetta struggles in yet another rough outing for Red Sox starters, but it’s too early to worry

Nick Pivetta had given up five home runs on the season before Saturday, when he was tagged for four long balls in a loss to the Blue Jays.John Tlumacki

The Blue Jays hit 1,230 feet worth of home runs off Nick Pivetta in the fifth inning on Saturday, three rockets that nearly covered a quarter mile.

The third was a 468-foot blast by Bo Bichette that sailed across Lansdowne Street.

Pivetta managed to finish the inning without endangering any other cars, pedestrians, or low-flying birds. He allowed six runs in a 7-2 loss.

It was by far the worst of the 15 starts Pivetta has made since being traded to the Red Sox last year and he rightfully brushed it off afterward.

“Don’t make a big deal out of it,” he said. “It’s part of the game. It’s going to happen here or there. You’re going to have some starts where you’re good and you’ll have starts where you’re bad.”

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It sounded a lot like what we’ve been hearing from the other Red Sox starters in recent days. They have given up 27 earned runs on 40 hits over only 22⅔ innings in the last five games.

The last quality start was on June 4 when Nate Eovaldi allowed one earned run in six innings against the Yankees in New York. The rotation has an 8.36 earned run average and 2.10 WHIP in the eight games since.

Alex Cora was asked again if he was concerned about his starting pitching.

“I’m good. I’m good,” he said. “It’s part of the season. We weren’t able to hold them today. Overall, if you think about it, it’s been a bad stretch.

“But I still have confidence, the same way when I came in this year going to spring training. I believe in these guys. These guys are going to give us quality innings and keep us in games.”

Cora believes it’s more a matter of other teams making adjustments after seeing the pitchers earlier in the season. That should work both ways but it hasn’t.

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“It just happens that everything is happening at the same time,” he said. “Obviously we make a big deal out of it. But the stuff is still the same. It’s just the execution.”

A big part of what makes Cora a good fit to manage the Sox is that he understands Boston and knows what the reaction from fans and media will be when times are tough.

Staying positive helps mute the noise outside the clubhouse. He doesn’t need to add to it.

Beyond that the Sox have won five of the last eight games. The Sox also are in the middle of playing 17 games in as many days and the starters won’t get an extra day off until later this week.

This would have been a good opportunity to use a six-man rotation for one turn, but they don’t have a sixth starter at the moment.

Tanner Houck is on the Triple A injured list with a flexor muscle strain and is at the early stages of building back up. Promoting another starter from Worcester would require a 40-man roster move.

It helps explain why the Sox are planning to use rookie Garrett Whitlock in two-inning stints 2-3 times a week to build up his arm strength and prepare him for the next time a starter is needed.

For now, the Sox are surviving. Brandon Workman has sucked up some innings in the bullpen and on Saturday newcomer Brandon Brennan worked three innings. He’ll probably be swapped out on Sunday to get a fresh arm in the bullpen.

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It’s far too early to suggest the Sox need to work the trade market to improve the rotation. They’ve all pitched well enough to overlook this poor stretch, at least for now.

But there are two more games against the Blue Jays and their impressive lineup before the Sox start a three-city, eight-game road trip that concludes with three games against the first-place Rays at Tropicana Field.

Martín Pérez starts Sunday and Eovaldi on Monday. The Sox haven’t won a game without scoring at least five runs since May 29. They could use a couple of those before going on the road.

Pivetta isn’t worried.

“We’re going to go out, we’re going to put two really good games at the end of this series and win this series 3-1 and we’re going to move forward from this and go into Atlanta,” he said. “It’s one game at a time and it’s us against them.”


Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.