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Stairs aims to snap slump, help Phillies

Stairs aims to snap slump, help Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Stairs will forever be remembered by Phillies fans for his historic two-run pinch-hit homer against the Dodgers in Game 4 of last year's National League Championship Series.

Stairs had a number of key pinch-hits in 2008, adding to his career total of 84 with 18 home runs and 73 RBIs off the bench.

Now, he'll simply settle for one hit.

Stairs, who is struggling through the worst slump of his stellar career, is 0-for-27 and hasn't had a hit since July 11 when he ripped a pinch-homer off Pittsburgh's Matt Capps. Stairs' previous career-high hitless streak was 17 and he has seen his average dip from .283 to .195.

"I need one good swing, one hit to get me going," said the 41-year-old Stairs. "I've been around for a while and I understand it can be a blooper or a bleeder to get you started."

Still, Stairs has four homers, 11 walks and 11 RBIs as a pinch-hitter this season.

Having that type of left-handed power on your bench is something every team would relish.

"He still can hit a fastball and he's very dangerous at the plate," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "If he gets a good part of the plate, he can hurt you. Managers respect him and he'll make you change pitchers. ... He's very capable of winning the game."

Pitching matchup
PHI: LHP Cole Hamels (7-8, 4.52 ERA)
Hamels had not been himself for much of 2009, but he looked like his old self Wednesday in a 4-1 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park. He threw eight shutout innings. He allowed seven hits and two walks and struck out seven. Time will tell if it was just a one start thing or the beginning of something good heading into September and October, when Hamels shined last year in the playoffs. "I have the stuff to be here," Hamels said. "I have the stuff to succeed. I have the stuff to succeed in the postseason. Why was I getting carried away trying to be somebody else I'm not?"

SF: LHP Jonathan Sanchez (6-10, 4.27 ERA)
Dating back to his July 10 no-hitter against San Diego, Sanchez has fashioned a 4-2 record with a 3.02 ERA in nine starts. Opponents have hit .168 (33-for-196) off him in that span. Though his road statistics look unimpressive (2-8, 4.81 ERA), he's 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his past three outings away from home. Sanchez, who has never pitched at Citizens Bank Park, defeated the Phillies on July 30 at AT&T Park, where he allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings as the Giants triumphed, 7-2.

Tidbits
Over his past 28 appearances, Phillies reliever Chan Ho Park is an impressive 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA. He has allowed only seven earned runs in 39 2/3 innings during that stretch. ... Rookie left-hander Antonio Bastardo (shoulder strain) is scheduled to throw one inning Monday for the club's Gulf Coast League team in Clearwater. Reliever Clay Condrey (left oblique strain) is also scheduled to pitch one inning. ... Reliever J.C. Romero (strained left forearm) is expected to throw a bullpen session during the next few days.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• CSN

On radio
• WPHT 1210, WUBA 1480 (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Phillies (J.A. Happ, 10-3, 2.63) vs. Giants (Tim Lincecum, 13-4, 2.33), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Phillies (Pedro Martinez, 2-0, 4.50) vs. Giants (Barry Zito, 9-11, 3.94), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Phillies (Cliff Lee, 12-10, 2.83) at Astros (TBD), 8:05 p.m. ET

Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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