-- BOSTON (Ticker) -- Mark Portugal, a member of the rotation of the Boston Red Sox for much of this season, surprisingly was released by the club following tonight's 1-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Portugal, who contemplated retirement earlier this season and left the team for a brief time, was 7-12 with a 5.51 ERA in 31 games. He made 27 starts, allowing 179 hits, 41 walks and 92 runs in 150 1/3 innings. He struck out 79. The 36-year-old righthander made his last start on September 11 against the New York Yankees. His last two appearances came out of the bullpen, most recently on Wednesday, when he allowed one run in two innings against Toronto. Boston (88-65) is 4 1/2 games ahead of Oakland in the American League wild card race with nine games remaining. "I don't understand it. A guy pitches all season for you in your starting rotation, wins some big ballgames and then you let him go with nine days in the season," Red Sox outfielder Reggie Jefferson said. "I don't understand that at all." Portugal has battled through injuries in his career, with his 10 stints on the disabled list the most among any active player. That did not stop the Red Sox from signing him to a one-year, $2.7 million contract. Portugal began his career in the American League, spending his first four seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He enjoyed his best campaign in 1993 with the Houston Astros, going 18-4 with a 2.77 ERA in a career-high 33 starts. He also played for the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds, posting a 109-95 career record.
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