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04/30/08 7:33 PM ET

Gordon big key to bullpen's success

Since Opening Day, veteran righty mowing down opponents

PHILADELPHIA -- Tom Gordon has pitched in every imaginable situation over a 20-year career with the Royals, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, White Sox, Yankees and Phillies.

But it had been almost two years since he entered a game with the bases loaded.

Even for a 40-year-old reliever with two decades of Major League experience, the nerves were flowing upon entering a bases-loaded jam with one out in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 7-4 victory over the Padres.

"It's been a long time for me to come into a situation like that," Gordon said. "But that's what our job requires at times. I'm just grateful that I've been healthy and strong enough to make the pitches that I need to make."

Gordon escaped the jam with minimal damage, allowing only an RBI groundout by the Padres' Tadahito Iguchi.

"You want to hold the game," Gordon said. "That's our job."

Since a rough outing on Opening Day when he allowed five runs in one-third of an inning, Gordon has been terrific. Over his past 11 appearances, he is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and one save. In his past 10 innings, Gordon has given up just five hits while striking out 12 and walking five.

"Gordon's been pitching very good for us," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've said all along he's one of the keys to our bullpen."

Winning pitcher Cole Hamels was appreciative of Gordon's effort.

"He's been doing really well for us," Hamels said. "For him to come in and do that, that's a key to our success."

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