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Notes: Gordon inching closer to return

Notes: Gordon inching closer to return

PHILADELPHIA -- Tom Gordon took another large step toward returning on Sunday when he threw from about 90 feet.

Gordon hasn't stepped onto a pitching mound yet, but he can feel his strength returning.

"The last couple days, I've got a chance to get to the point where I feel good, and then we'll worry about mechanics," Gordon said. "It felt like the last couple days, the mechanics and the way the ball is coming out of my hands, I haven't felt that [strong] in a long time."

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Gordon said he expects to continue his rehab in Clearwater, Fla., and expects to throw again on Tuesday. He made 55 to 60 tosses on Sunday, and thought he'd throw off a mound soon.

"I feel good about the progress we've made each day," he said. "I think I still have a little ways to go, but this is night and day from the way I felt four or five days ago."

Gordon said he's still fighting a two-front war, with his inflamed right rotator cuff and the upper respiratory infection that required a five-day hospital stay and cost him some weight.

"Depending on how my chest feels, whether or not I'm able to physically be able to throw off the mound and still have my legs under me, that's the key for me right now," Gordon said. "I got to make sure that I'm strong enough to the point where I can throw downhill and not aggravate [anything]."

Struggles continue: A win made it easier to take, even for Freddy Garcia.

The struggling right-hander continued through another poor outing on Sunday, where he surrendered two home runs and lasted 5 1/3 innings.

"Tomorrow is another day," he said. "I was feeling good in the bullpen. I don't know what happened the first couple of innings. I started feeling good [later]. When I start feeling good, sometimes it's too late. That's no excuse to the way I pitched today. It was a poor effort."

Garcia also attracted the fans' ire when he ran halfway to first base on a groundout to second base.

"I was upset about grounding to second," Garcia said. "I saw him catch the ball and throw it. I didn't think it was a big deal to not go hard to first base. I'm pitching, so ... I was frustrated that I hit a ground ball. I'm a pitcher. I'm lucky if I hit it."

Garcia hasn't recorded a win since April 22, a span of eight starts. His ERA is 5.11, not what a pitcher would like in a contract year, though Garcia said he's not concerned.

"I have to think about my next start, not what happened today," Garcia said. "We can't think about what happened today. I'll be playing somewhere [in 2008]. Any pitcher can have a bad year and [find a job]. Right now, things aren't going my way."

No. 5 still No. 5: Despite continued struggles that have plummeted Pat Burrell's average to .224 entering Sunday's game -- including a .179 mark in May and an 0-for-6 to begin June -- manager Charlie Manuel continues to slot Burrell in the No. 5 spot.

"I like to think I can put the lineup in," Manuel said. "I should play who I want to play."

Manuel certainly has that right, and believes Burrell will improve on his six homers, 23 RBIs and a .391 slugging percentage that, entering Sunday's action, ranks 62nd in the National League and last among NL left fielders. He also ranks last among NL left fielders in batting average, but his 42 walks keep his on-base percentage second to Barry Bonds.

Manuel bristled at the notion of benching Burrell, who is the highest-paid player on the team, at $13 million. The manager did sit Burrell often last season, opting for veteran Jeff Conine and others while the Phillies were in a pennant race.

"When you sign somebody for a long period of time to a big contract, there's a commitment there," Manuel said. "When's the cutoff point? I don't know. When you sign him, you commit to him."

DeVito promos show: Emmy Award-winning Danny DeVito stopped by Citizens Bank Park to promote the FX show, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." The show is shooting in Philly through June 11.

Joined by the cast and the creator, Rob McElhenney -- who grew up in South Philadelphia -- DeVito also threw out the first pitch before Sunday's game.

"This show celebrates Philadelphia like no other," said DeVito, who was born in Neptune, N.J., and raised in nearby Asbury Park. The show is about four friends (played by McElhenney, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson) who run an Irish bar, "Paddy's Pub," that McElhenney, an Eagles and Phillies fan, said was based on a place near where he grew up.

In the casual banter, DeVito took playful jabs at ABC's "Lost" and other serial-type sweeping drama, calling his show a true sitcom. The 62-year-old said he grew up in a split household where his mother rooted for the Yankees and his father followed the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"It was rough on the family," he said. "Pandemonium."

Quotable: "They'll have to hand out leis more often." Aaron Rowand, on Shane Victorino's game-winning home run on the day he Hawaiian figurine likeness was given out to fans.

Philling in: Saturday's attendance of 45,153 was the largest crowd of the season and pushed the Phillies above the one million mark in the 27th home game. Philadelphia is the fifth team to reach one million fans, joining the Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals, Giants and Cubs.

Coming up: Righty Jon Lieber found a rough patch in May after three brilliant April starts. The veteran posted a 4.68 ERA in five May outings and surrendered five runs on 13 hits in his previous outing, a 6 2/3-inning effort against the Diamondbacks. Lieber faced the Giants on May 5, and allowed four runs in six innings. He gets the call in a 1:05 p.m. ET start on Monday against the Giants in the series finale.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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