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Recent hiccups highlight Porter's bullpen concerns

Recent hiccups highlight Porter's bullpen concerns

Recent hiccups highlight Porter's bullpen concerns

TORONTO -- After watching his bullpen give up critical late-inning home runs in all three games of this week's series against the A's, Astros manager Bo Porter didn't sugarcoat his concern with regard to the ability of his relief pitchers to get key outs.

"It's a major concern," he said.

Entering Thursday, Astros relief pitchers had served up a whopping 61 home runs, which was 20 more homers allowed than the next-highest total in the Major Leagues. The Padres' bullpen had allowed 41. Houston relievers had a league-high 5.03 ERA.

Travis Blackley gave up a game-tying two-run homer to Coco Crisp in the seventh inning Wednesday, Jose Cisnero allowed a tiebreaking two-run home run to Brandon Moss in the eighth inning on Tuesday, and Blackley and Wesley Wright both gave up late homers on Monday when the Astros blew a two-run lead.

"It's a major concern, because the starters are working hard, and I said this about a week ago -- our starters have been a pretty good mainstay in the course of this year, and when you have a lead late in the game, to me it's the most demoralizing loss in baseball," Porter said. "Those guys down there have been made aware they need to do a better job protecting leads, and you need to win the games in which we're in a position to win."

That being said, Porter said he doesn't anticipate any changes in roles for the time being. He said he keeps tabs on who's pitching well at Triple-A Oklahoma City, but said it wouldn't be fair to bring up any names of players who could potentially be called up.

"The guys we have down there are the guys that are there, and they're going to continue to get the opportunities, until we decide we've given enough opportunities and someone else arrives, and they're going to get the opportunities," Porter said. "I'm going to give them the ball and expect them to get the job done."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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