Even amid a tense battle against a division opponent, Alex Cora took time to show appreciation for one of his most committed players.

Cora thanked Nick Pivetta on the Tropicana Field mound Wednesday night after the veteran right-hander wrapped up his 4 2/3-inning outing against the Rays. Pivetta gave the Red Sox a chance to win by limiting Tampa Bay to three runs, but a silent Boston offense doomed the visitors in a 3-1 loss.

Pivetta’s fierce competitiveness, detailed preparation and selflessness made Cora inclined to thank the 30-year-old amid the game. The seventh-year pro was flattered by the gesture, but his focus remained on the entire club.

“It’s always about the team at the end of the day and of course, I appreciate (what Cora said),” Pivetta told reporters, per The Boston Globe. “I do this for these guys and this organization.”

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The Red Sox, who entered Thursday 5 1/2 games back of the final American League Wild-Card spot, will have to win the vast majority of their remaining regular-season games if they want a shot at making the playoffs. Such a feat will require a full-team effort, but Boston clearly doesn’t have to worry about Pivetta letting go of the rope.

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