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Melvin sticking with closer-by-committee

OAKLAND -- Despite a relief corps that has struggled to maintain late leads in recent games and a $10 million man in the bullpen, A's manager Bob Melvin will continue to use a closer-by-committee in save situations.

"Look, we'll do the best we can with the matchups we can to finish off the game," Melvin said. "That's kind of where we are and where we remain at this point."

In the past two games, trusted lefty Sean Doolittle and reliable righty Luke Gregerson have been charged with losses after giving up runs in the eighth inning or later. Even though the team's bullpen ranks among the league's best in ERA (2.55) and key opposition batting stats, Oakland is tied with Pittsburgh with a Major League-worst six blown saves through 20 games.

The A's signed Jim Johnson to a one-year, $10 million contract this past offseason in hopes that he could hold down the closer role for departed fan favorite Grant Balfour. But since giving up a pair of late runs on April 9 in Minnesota, Johnson has been moved to setup duty, where he has tossed 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

In the two weeks since then, Gregerson has converted three of five save opportunities, while Doolittle has converted one of his two chances. In all, they've combined to to throw 7 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits and no walks with six strikeouts.

While Johnson looks like he might have recaptured the form that led to 101 saves the past two seasons, it sounds like Melvin will stay with the status quo for now.

"I try to be as communicative as I can all the time," Melvin said. "They know that it's a little different right now than when we started the season."

Alex Espinoza is a contributor to
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