WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 01: Matt Stairs #12 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Ryan Zimmerman #11, Jayson Werth #28 and Brian Bixler #43 after driving in the winning run in the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park on July 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Nationals won the game 2-1. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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All season long the question that has been on everyone's mind in Natstown was: why is DH Matt Stairs on the roster? The grizzled, old veteran has an abysmal batting average and can no longer effectively field a position and just seems to be taking up a roster spot for no reason other than to appease Nationals GM Mike Rizzo who signed him in the off season. On Friday night, Stairs showed why he is on the team in a 2-1 walk-off Nationals victory.
With men on second and third and one out, Stairs took a 95-mph sinker from Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Tim Wood deep and off the right field wall to score infielder Alex Cora and give the Nats yet another walk-off win in the ninth-inning. Stairs was mobbed at first base by his teammates and nearly stripped by shortstop Ian Desmond in the celebration. Friday night marked manager Davey Johnson's first win as Nationals manager and the 1,149th win in his career.
Nationals starter Tom Gorzelanny pitched a sensational game pitching seven-innings of six hit ball giving up only one unearned run walking one and striking out eight. Easily it was Gorzo's finest performance of the season. Reliever Tyler Clippard blanked the Bucs in his one inning of relief and Drew Storen earned the game's win denying Pittsburgh in the top of the ninth.
The other Nationals run of the game came off a Roger Bernadina solo home run in the sixth.
The Nationals return to a .500 record at 41-41 and are only a half-game back of the third place New York Mets.