The Washington Times - May 21, 2011, 09:06PM

BALTIMORE — The Nationals best scoring opportunity in a 4-2 game Saturday came after Laynce Nix walked and Jayson Werth singled to center field with one out in the sixth.

The Nationals looked to be getting to Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie and designated hitter Matt Stairs — still searching for his first hit in the series and third of the season — was coming to the plate with a prime opportunity to reward manager Jim Riggleman for allowing him to be the DH.


Instead he rolled over on a first-pitch changeup, hit into a 4-6-3 double play and ended the inning.

Here’s what he had to say about it:

“I actually thought along with him in the proper way that he hadn’t thrown me a changeup all night and I sat changeup,” Stairs said. “Instead of just waiting for it to get up in the zone I tried to hit it. I hit his pitch instead of being the fastball hitter that I am. I tried to hit his pitch, he made a good pitch and I rolled over and double play. It sucks but it’s part of the game.

“We were one big hit away. If I can get a hit with the runners in scoring position there, you got (LaRoche) coming up behind me so, you’d like to see it work out different, but it never worked out the way we wanted tonight. Tip your hat to him making a quality pitch and me being a dumb hitter and rolling it over and getting a double play.”

The season, to be frank, hasn’t gone well for Stairs. As a pinch hitter, his opportunities are limited and he was just 2-for-26 entering the game. He got a double and scored in the ninth inning, his first extra-base hit of the season.

Chances are he will not be the Nationals’ DH on Sunday in the series finale with the Orioles. Michael Morse will most likely get that opportunity, despite the fact that the Nationals will be facing another right-hander in Chris Tillman. It’s been a struggle for Stairs to find his timing and until the ninth inning Saturday he hadn’t done anything in the series. On Friday, when the Nationals were running around the bases with ridiculous frequency, Stairs was the only Nationals starter not to reach base.

I wish I could say, yeah, I’m locked in,” Stairs said. “But it is nice knowing that after your first at-bat you’re going to have a couple more. I think I actually, the first two at-bats yesterday I felt good and the last two I didn’t feel very good but today I felt a little bit better. I saw some pitches, worked the count a little bit better and so hopefully tomorrow I’ll lock it in and have a happy travel day.”
Stairs was able to work the count full in each of his first two at-bats, seeing 13 pitches, which could help him as he continues to work on his timing.

“It’s a process where I’ve got to learn to be patient again,” he said. “Look for my pitch and not swing at the pitcher’s pitch… I think the biggest thing is my gameplan for tomorrow. I have a very strong gameplan for tomorrow. I won’t reveal what that is, but I’m a fastball hitter and … I think yesterday I tried to hit too many pitches that weren’t mine.”