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Showalter continues to support closer Johnson

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WASHINGTON -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter wouldn't comment on Jim Johnson's availability, but after throwing back-to-back days, the struggling right-hander wasn't expected to be used in Monday's game against the Nationals.

Johnson, who surrendered his fourth blown save in five opportunities Sunday in Toronto, threw 37 pitches in a two-out outing in which he was charged with four runs on four hits and a walk. He also threw an inning on Saturday, picking up his 15th save, and wouldn't have been used, regardless of his recent performance, in a third consecutive game this early in the season.

Showalter, who has continued to stand by Johnson, was asked on Monday if it was easier to trust a guy who has a track record like his closer, who converted 51 of 54 saves to lead the Majors last season.

"I don't know about easier, you always get to the situation in the game, and what's your best option?" Showalter said. "And also, what affects the rest of your club? It's like if this guy is not going to start tonight, then who? And then what does that affect? … I've got a pretty good idea of who we are and what we've got to do to get to where we want to go."

Johnson, who has allowed 12 earned runs over his last three innings, will continue to get the ball in the ninth inning and get every opportunity to work through this rough patch. The Orioles don't have a clear backup option at this point, and the bullpen, the team's strength last season, has picked up a lot of innings and required some roster management to keep everyone healthy.

One of the team's leaders, Johnson has been working with pitching coach Rick Adair to make some adjustments, and Showalter said he "may have had his best inning the day before. He was filthy. I think that's what was probably frustrating for him [Sunday]."

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

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