BALTIMORE — Right-hander Ivan Nova is supposed to eat innings in the White Sox’ rotation, which isn’t exactly asking a lot from a veteran with the highest-priced contract in the group.
He expects to do more than put in the hours.
‘‘I want to pitch good,’’ he said when it was suggested to him that his job is to be an innings-eater. ‘‘I want to pitch good.’’
But Nova, whom the Sox acquired from the Pirates in an offseason trade, has been bad more often than not in his first five starts and hasn’t been worse than he was in his four innings in a 9-1 loss Tuesday to the Orioles.
‘‘Missed location with all my pitches,’’ Nova said. ‘‘I threw the ball a lot over the plate, and I got hit.’’
To the tune of nine runs and 11 hits, including four home runs.
‘‘This was the worst one since [the beginning of] spring training,’’ he said. ‘‘I should do a better job. You keep fighting out there. The good thing is you have another start in five more days.’’
Nova (0-3), who doesn’t have overpowering stuff but usually throws strikes — he entered the game with three walks — was off from the get-go. He allowed a double to leadoff man Jonathan Villar and walked Renato Nunez in the first before serving up four homers in a stretch of 12 batters covering the third and fourth.
Nunez, Chris Davis, Dwight Smith Jr. and Joey Rickard all went deep against Nova, who despite his 6.23 ERA entering the game hadn’t allowed a long ball. He walked three and gave up seven hits in addition to the homers, and the damage might have been worse had it not been for a pitcher-to-home-to-first double play in the second.
The Sox’ highest-paid starting pitcher with an $8.5 million base salary, Nova will take an 8.42 ERA into his next start.
‘‘I’m confident I can get out of this,’’ Nova said. ‘‘You want to pitch good every five days, but in this game you’re going to have a lot of ups and downs. The first start was really good, the second was a bad one, the third one was good and then two bad in a row. You want to be consistent.’’
The Orioles, who broke a four-game losing streak, always have given Nova fits. He now has a 5.51 ERA with 24 homers allowed in 19 appearances (18 starts) against them.
Orioles starter Andrew Cashner (4-1) held the Sox to five hits and a walk and struck out five in seven innings.
The Sox made some hard contact early, but the only run they got came on an RBI single by Tim Anderson that scored Yoan Moncada, who had tripled, in the sixth.
Right-hander Ervin Santana, the other veteran in the Sox’ rotation, takes a 10.38 ERA in two starts into the rubber game of the series Wednesday. Santana is one victory shy of 150 for his career.
The Sox’ starters now have a collective 6.22 ERA. Manager Rick Renteria needs to see that go down.
‘‘He had quite a few misses today,’’ Renteria said of Nova. ‘‘We wanted him to eat up some innings and get some outs. Just a tough day, one he’ll want to put behind him.
‘‘He’s mislocating. He’s frustrated with himself, but he’ll go back to the drawing board and get back on track. Hopefully he’ll give us those innings we need.’’
‘‘Oh, yeah,’’ Nova said. ‘‘It’s the first month of the season. I’m healthy and still confident and ready to go.’’
The Sox only can hope so.