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A's bullpen coming together for stretch run

OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen has allowed just six runs over the past nine games after allowing 28 runs over its previous 10.

A staple of the team's success this season, the relievers are primed to play a pivotal role in the A's postseason push after doing so in last season's September stretch to overtake the Rangers.

"We're trying to keep some guys available every day," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You try to resist the temptation of using the same guys every day, and we've also had guys who've stepped up, like Dan Otero."

Sean Doolittle earned his first save of the season in Saturday's 2-1 win over the Astros and said he felt the added pressure of pitching in the ninth inning in place of closer Grant Balfour, who received the day off after a 35-pitch outing Friday.

Doolittle and Ryan Cook, who served as Oakland's closer for a stretch last season, are viable options when Balfour is unavailable. Melvin said he'd prefer not to use Balfour on Sunday in order to give him three days' rest with Monday's off-day.

"We're probably a bit deeper, but you do understand that this time of year these guys have a lot of heavy workloads and you just have to find that extra gear down the stretch," Melvin said.

Even Opening Day starter Brett Anderson has two saves for the A's since his recent return from a fractured right foot. And that stat isn't lost on Doolittle.

"It feels good," Doolittle said, "because Brett has two, and now I'm almost going to catch him. He's been in the bullpen like a week."

Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for
Read More: Oakland Athletics, Ryan Cook, Grant Balfour, Brett Anderson, Dan Otero, Sean Doolittle