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Showalter gives struggling Johnson night off

Showalter gives struggling Johnson night off

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Showalter gives struggling Johnson night off

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles used three pitchers in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 4-2 win, none named Jim Johnson, raising the question: How much can you read into manager Buck Showalter's decision?

"Oh, sure, you can read," Showalter said of the move to give the struggling Johnson a night off. "We've got 30-something games [left]. We're going to put our best foot forward every night. Jimmy's our best option, one of them. I'm glad we've got more than one good option. We've got a lot of good options, and we'll continue to make use of them."

Johnson (3-7, 3.58 ERA) has blown three consecutive save opportunities after converting 10 straight, and he allowed runs in four of his last five appearances. The Major League leader in both saves and blown saves, Johnson didn't warm up on Wednesday; Showalter said the right-hander wasn't available.

"I could have pushed it," said Showalter, who used Darren O'Day, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter instead. "[Johnson] had been up two or three days in a row and pitched last night. He's like second or third in appearances, and I was trying real hard to stay away from him."

Hunter, who entered with runners on first and second and no outs, retired two batters before Matt Wieters threw out Kelly Johnson trying to steal second to end the game. It was Hunter's fourth career save; all have come this season.

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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