MIAMI - Tom Gordon sat stoically in front of a computer screen last night in the corner of the visitors' clubhouse at Dolphin Stadium, where hitters typically spend hours studying and dissecting film.
The Phillies reliever also studied and dissected.
But Gordon mostly relived his disastrous ninth inning in a 6-2 loss to the Florida Marlins, which moved the Marlins within two games of the Phillies in the National League East. Gordon had no command of his fastball, and it cost him. He loaded the bases, walking two batters on four pitches each, before Dan Uggla hit a 3-1 fastball into the second deck in left field for a game-winning grand slam.
"I just was not in the zone at all," Gordon said.
Gordon (5-3) has been a big reason the Phillies have had the best bullpen in the National League. Since he allowed five runs in a third of an inning to take the loss on opening day against the Washington Nationals, he had gone 5-1 with a 2.13 ERA in his next 27 appearances. But Gordon simply could not throw his fastball for a strike last night.
It overshadowed another fine performance by Cole Hamels. He allowed three hits, two runs and one walk in eight innings. He also struck out a season-high 13, but he allowed two solo home runs to Marlins third baseman Jorge Cantu.
The Phillies, who need to beat the Marlins tonight to avoid a three-game sweep, had a chance to take the lead in the top of the ninth. They tied the score and had the bases loaded with two outs when Jayson Werth tried to sneak a bunt past Marlins pitcher Kevin Gregg.
But the ball found Gregg, and Werth was out.
"I want him swinging there," manager Charlie Manuel said. "The reason why I want him swinging is because he doesn't bunt. He hardly ever bunts. He doesn't have a lot of reps laying it down."
Werth thought he could surprise the Marlins. The infield was back, especially third baseman Wes Helms.
"It's kind of a play that I was part of a lot in the minor leagues," Werth said. "I've had some experience with either myself or my teammates doing it actually to win games. It's one of those good plays, bad plays. It [stinks] it didn't work, but I think the idea gave us a chance to win the game. It didn't work, though."
Had Werth executed the bunt better or swung away and gotten a hit, Brad Lidge would have pitched the ninth.
Maybe things would have turned out differently.
"The bullpen has been so good," Hamels said. "There's going to be times when you do stumble. It's obviously a learning point for our whole team. You can't just put all your reliance on the bullpen every single game, day in and day out. There is going to be a time where you need to pick it up with the bats and obviously pick it up with the starts.
"It happens. Flash has been doing real well for us all year. It's a little bump in the road. I know he doesn't take it too personally. He might, but I don't. Just because I know he's going to capitalize the next time he comes out."
That could be tonight.