The Nationals had an unlikely hero in their 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 1, as Matt Stairs, whose batting average is still in the .100s, hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning. The win also was the first for new Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson, who took over as manager on Monday.
The Pirates picked up their only run of the game in the top of the third inning when Pirates’ left fielder Alex Presley hit into a fielder’s choice at first base, scoring catcher Michael McKenry.
Nats’ center fielder Roger Bernadina hit his fifth home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth to tie the ballgame at one.
Matt Stairs came off the bench in the bottom of the ninth, with men on the corners and only one out, and hit a shot off the wall in right field to end the game.
“He [Stairs] swung the bat pretty good out in L.A. and he’s still not quite 100 percent, but that looked like 100 percent right there,” Johnson said. “Twenty-five guys gotta contribute if you’re gonna win, and I have all the confidence in the world if you’re on the club I’m gonna use you.”
Nats’ starter Tom Gorzelanny pitched seven innings, allowing one unearned run and striking out eight Pirate batters. While Gorzelanny pitched well enough to win the game, the offense could not help him. Johnson gave him every opportunity to obtain the victory, but it just didn’t happen.
That is something Johnson says he will do more than former manager Jim Riggleman did, give his pitchers an opportunity to win.
“They’re gonna get a little longer leash with me. I’m expecting more out of them,” Johnson said. “I go the extra yard for them. I want them to know that. I want to give them the opportunity to win. Unfortunately we didn’t get it for him [Gorzelanny], but he won the game for us, gave us a quality start.”