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08/18/11 7:35 PM ET

Back end of bullpen a boon for D-backs

PHILADELPHIA -- As of Thursday, the D-backs and Pirates are the only teams in the National League to be undefeated when leading after the eighth inning.

The back-end duo of J.J. Putz and David Hernandez has been productive all season, and Bryan Shaw has been terrific since being recalled from Triple-A Reno on July 20.

Manager Kirk Gibson is starting to become conscious of the workload put on Putz and the back end of the bullpen, and he recently toyed with the idea using Shaw to close.

"Do you really go for it now at the expense of maybe getting nicked up?" Gibson said. "We want to avoid the 'nicked up' part. We want to continue to have our depth at the very back end."

Johnson returns to D-backs' lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- After being held out of the lineup the last three games, second baseman Kelly Johnson started and batted sixth in Thursday's series finale with the Phillies.

Johnson entered the game just 4-for-38 in August, with four walks and 13 strikeouts in 11 games. He has spent a fair amount of time in the cage, hitting off a tee and flips, and taking batting practice.

"[I'm] just staying on the ball a little better and staying up top, not dipping, not coming under, staying shorter," Johnson said.

Manager Kirk Gibson said that Johnson's biggest challenge will be getting his timing down against big league pitching.

"You hope that he can have some success so he can validate the work," Gibson said. "That always helps."

Worth noting

• Rookie Wade Miley will make his Major League debut on Saturday in Atlanta, and manager Kirk Gibson said the plan is to have him called up earlier so he can get acclimated to a big league clubhouse and climate.

• A representative from Franklin Sports visited the clubhouse before the game, doling out new pairs of batting gloves and getting input on new styles and models. According to Ryan Roberts, they may see sales staffers three times a season, as players go through countless pairs of batting gloves, sometimes three in a series if the weather is especially hot or wet, which causes the leather to stretch and tear.

Nate Mink is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.