BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox are trying to build a bullpen worthy of the postseason.

So maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez lasted only 31/3 innings Saturday in Boston’s 5-3 loss to Houston.

Brandon Workman jogged in to relieve …

Let the bullpen tryouts begin.

What does Boston’s relief corps look like beyond closer Craig Kimbrel? That’s a question Manager Alex Cora needs to answer.

Cora said he’s not worried, even after Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly helped Boston blow a 2-0 lead with three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings Friday night.

“As far as stuff, Brasier and Kelly had their stuff (Friday). But we didn’t finish hitters,” Cora said.

“We’ve been feeling very comfortable after the sixth inning. We haven’t lost too many games like (Friday) the whole season.”

Indeed, Boston is 77-5 when leading after the sixth.

But these Boston relievers have eight blown saves in their last 45 games. They had eight in their first 98 games.

A gradual decline.

“I know we’ll be fine,” Cora said.

Maybe Kelly and Brasier will be fine. Friday was Brasier’s first blown save and right-handed batters are still hitting only .158 against him. And before Friday, Kelly had allowed only three earned runs in his previous 19 appearances.

The eighth-inning reliever figured to be Matt Barnes but he’s shelved with hip inflammation. He’s on a rest-and-rehab routine.

“We’ll re-evaluate in a couple of days and go from there,” Barnes said. “I’m confident (the hip) needs only rest.”

Heath Hembree remains the fourth right-hander Cora likes to use.

How about a left-hander? There are plenty of choices.

“We have (Brian Johnson) and Drew (Pomeranz), and Bobby (Poyner), and Rob (Scott),” Cora said. “We’re going to use them and see if we can match up with lefties and see what we have.”

Pomeranz was moved from the rotation to the pen and has continued to be ineffective (5.78 ERA/1.66 WHIP).

Johnson has helped Boston as a starter but not much as a reliever (4.94 ERA).

That leaves Poyner and Scott, who have spent much of their time in Pawtucket. This is a time for them to prove themselves, although both are playing that down.

“I’m not really taking it as a tryout,” Poyner said. “Honestly, just trying to put up zeroes every time I go out. Outing by outing has been my focus.”

Scott, likewise, said he can’t worry about plans for the playoffs. “No clue,” he said. “I’m just here to help out wherever I can.”

Scott didn’t get into Saturday’s game but Poyner did – and was impressive.

Fans may love the radar gun but Poyner brings deception to his 90 mph fastball and killer change-up. He entered in the sixth. George Springer grounded a single up the middle and then Jose Altuve reached when an inside fastball nicked him.

Poyner retired the next six batters, three by strikeout, including the hot Alex Bregman whiffing on an outside change-up. Poyner threw 28 pitches – 20 for strikes, including 10 swing-and-misses.

Poyner has a 1.76 ERA. He began the season as the surprise addition to the major league roster. But Boston didn’t give him much of a chance before sending him to Triple-A. Now he’s back and can help.

Workman, who may be on the bubble for the postseason, pitched 12/3 scoreless innings (two hits), allowing one inherited run to score.

Tyler Thornburg pitched the final two innings (two hits, one walk, no runs).

Boston has other ideas for the bullpen, including knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright. I still think starter Nathan Eovaldi and his high-90’s fastball will find the bullpen.

Three weeks from Sunday, Boston will play its last regular-season game. It better have its relievers lined up after that. Recent playoffs show how essential a bullpen is.

The Yankees have a solid pen, as does Cleveland. Houston is right there and used Josh James on Saturday. In only his second major league game, James struck out four in 22/3 innings with a high-90’s fastball and swing-and-miss slider.

Boston has the best record in the majors but will have a battle in the postseason.

It needs to be armed.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: ClearTheBases