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Jays' Stairs hopes hard work pays off

Jays' Stairs hopes hard work pays off

TORONTO -- Matt Stairs readily admits that his recent struggles have been letting the team down. However, not one to hang his head, Stairs tirelessly devoted himself to the batting cages in hopes of combating his troubles at the plate.

With his performance in Friday's 5-4 victory over the Mariners, both Stairs and the Blue Jays are hoping that the designated hitter has taken the appropriate steps in the right direction.

Against Seattle in the series opener, Stairs collected a single and a double, as well as his team-leading 10th homer of the season. Falling just a triple short of the cycle, the 40-year-old also drove in two runs, one of which tied the game for the Jays, who eventually went on to win in extra innings.

Friday represented Stairs' first multi-hit game since June 28. For him, it was a long time coming.

"I was never really feeling sorry for myself, but I know I was struggling and letting the team down," Stairs said. "But you just keep on working and going out there and taking batting practice. It's not like I'm not [practicing], that's for sure. I was hitting every day [in BP]. Maybe I hit too much."

Prior to Friday's game, Stairs was engulfed in a prolonged slump that has lasted for the better part of two months.

Entering Friday's game, he was hitting just .182 (24-for-132) in his previous 43 games dating back to May 20. During that time, Stairs managed just three home runs and 18 RBIs, while striking out 43 times. Over that span, the DH watched his season average plummet from .286 to .236.

As a fixture in a Jays lineup that has experienced severe offensive droughts at times during the campaign, it's possible that Stairs could have been placing added pressure on himself.

"It seems like everybody is looking at you when you're in a slump," Jays manager Cito Gaston said, referring to Stairs. "But it's one of those things that you have fight your way through and hopefully that's what he's done."

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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