Rodriguez, Red Sox try to salvage split vs. Mariners

Only in Boston can you win five straight starts and still face criticism.

But in Eduardo Rodriguez’s case, there’s a reason for it.

Rodriguez, a 25-year-old left-hander out of Venezuela, is 8-1 with a 3.64 ERA this season as he heads into Sunday afternoon’s start against the host Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

In those past five outings, Rodriguez has lasted more than 5 2/3 innings only once, going 6 2/3 innings on May 30 against Toronto.

He has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of those games, including 109 Tuesday against Baltimore as the Red Sox were forced to use three relievers in a 6-4 victory.

“Eduardo was good; I think the next step for him is to go deeper into the game and keep that pitch count down,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He did the job, I’m not saying we’re not pleased with the results, but I feel there’s more there. There are certain games we need our starters to go deeper and (Tuesday) was one of them.”

Even though the Red Sox are 12-1 when Rodriguez starts, his limited outings have taken a toll on the bullpen.

“It means I’ve been throwing the ball good and I want to keep doing it,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know. I’m trying to do the best I can to go deeper in the games. If there’s something I’ve got to change, I will do it. But I just want to keep trying to find it.”

Rodriguez can throw a 95-mph fastball and his changeup is considered among the best in the game.

“Sometimes we feel like with his stuff he can bury guys right away,” Cora said. “Setting people up for a 2-2 count throw a changeup and then he can go right away 0-2 and use that good changeup. He had a good one (Tuesday). He can bury guys.”

Cora was asked if it’s a confidence issue with Rodriguez?

“No, he’s very confident, to say the least,” Cora said. “It’s just a matter to make that next step, recognize who you are. Sometimes he gets caught up in being someone who he’s not and Eduardo Rodriguez is a good big-league pitcher. His stuff is up there. He should stay with his strength.”

Rodriguez said he’s been getting advice from teammates and fellow left-handers Chris Sale and David Price.

“They just told me to attack the hitters, attack more, attack more in the counts when maybe you’re 0-2, try to put them away as fast as I can,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the best way to get deep in the games.”

Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners.

Seattle is scheduled to start right-hander Mike Leake (7-3, 4.26 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 6.56 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox. Leake hasn’t lost since May 4. Last time out he went six innings, allowing a run on four hits, in a win over the Angels.

Seattle has won two of the first three games of the series, all of which have been decided by one run. Nelson Cruz scored Dee Gordon with a third-inning single for the only run in Saturday’s game.

The Mariners are a majors-leading 23-10 in one-run games.

“It says a lot about the character of the guys on this ballclub. We’ll continue to roll,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Those one-run games, that’s the name of the game for us.”