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After start, Johnson sent back to Triple-A

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Steve Johnson allowed six runs on seven hits and four walks in an 8-5 loss to the Twins on Saturday night and became the second consecutive starter to last just four innings, forcing the Orioles to option the right-hander to Triple-A Norfolk after the game to make room for some bullpen help.

With upcoming off-days on Monday and Thursday, the team doesn't need a fifth starter next week and they are expected to officially announce the corresponding move for a reliever prior to Sunday's game.

"We're not going to be short, I can tell you that," manager Buck Showalter said of the bullpen, which he has made a priority to protect since becoming manager. "We're not going to assume anything with Wei-Yin [Chen starting], especially with the conditions that we're playing in. "

"We've got two options. We had a couple calls in [to Norfolk] in the fourth inning when Stevie came out. I wanted to check on the health of one guy, and some other things before we try to make a decision. There's a 5:30 [a.m.] flight, gets in at 10:30. That's what he'll be on."

Showalter said that in a perfect world, the team would like to have a right-handed reliever working behind the lefty Chen, although he acknowledged that may not be the case. Options in Triple-A who haven't pitched lately include right-handed reliever Adam Russell, lefties Mike Belfiore and Daniel Schlereth and right-handed starter Jair Jurrjens, who is slated to start Monday for Norfolk.

Of those listed above, only Belfiore is on the 40-man roster. But given Brian Roberts' hamstring surgery, the Orioles could transfer him to the 60-day disabled list should they need to open a spot.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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