NEW YORK -- Tom Gordon winced slightly after an eighth-inning pitch to Endy Chavez, the kind of feeling that can worry a pitching coach or teammates. Gordon straightened up and struck out Chavez, then got Jeff Conine to ground out to end the eighth inning. He winced again as he descended the steps to the visitors' dugout. "He felt a little twinge in the left side of his back," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He should be all right. It was on one of his deliveries. It's one of those cranky things a guy who is 39 years old gets. I get that in my legs and knees every day."
The Phillies aren't concerned because Gordon finished the inning, and he likely won't pitch Monday anyway, since he's worked in three straight games. Ditto for closer Brett Myers. Still, there's a slight reason to worry, because the Phillies can't afford to not have their setup man, who hasn't allowed a run in five appearances. Gordon declined to speak about how he was feeling. He was examined on Sunday and will be looked at again in St. Louis. Dubee thought Gordon staying in the game was a big accomplishment. "That's what this guy is built around," Dubee said. "You know he's got stuff inside him when you pitch this long. He's a special guy." Mets motivated: Jimmy Rollins has become the favorite villian in New York this season, thanks to his offseason boast, but he's backing it up with performance. The switch-hitter is hitting .346 (28-for-81) with six homers, 15 runs scored and 15 RBIs against the Mets this season. "When he plays good, that helps our team," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He puts more zip into our way of playing the Mets, especially when they chant and boo him. I think it gets our guys going. We want to beat them." Rollins' outstanding season has solicited continued talk of a potential National League MVP Award, a prospect which excites the shortstop. "It's definitely fun to be mentioned in that breath, because it means you're doing well, helping your team, and more than likely, your team is winning," Rollins said. "That's something that if I was given, I would love, but if I had to choose between that and the ring, I'd take both." Eaton to stay: Manuel said after the game that Adam Eaton will remain in the starting rotation. Despite allowing four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings to the Mets on Sunday, raising his ERA to a NL-worst 6.36, Eaton's place was secured more through the struggles of rookie J.D. Durbin, who struggled in his previous three outings. Durbin will work out of the bullpen. More Rollins: No one knows home plate like Rollins this season, and not just for the National League-leading 126 times he's crossed it. Rollins entered Sunday's game against the Mets with 651 at-bats and 710 plate appearances, the most in the Major Leagues. While he'll likely surpass his career highs of 689 at-bats and 758 appearances -- set last season in 158 games -- Rollins is also on pace to pass Willie Wilson for most at-bats in a season and Lenny Dykstra for most plate appearances. Wilson had 705 at-bats for the 1980 Royals, and Dykstra came to the plate 773 times with the 1993 Phillies. In both those years, the Phillies went to the World Series, winning in 1980. If the trend continues, Rollins will become the first player to lead the league in those two categories since Ichiro Suzuki in 2004. Suzuki fell one at-bat short of Wilson and 11 plate appearances shy of Dykstra. Split loyalties: While old friend Jim Thome approaches 500 home runs for the White Sox, Manuel has been paying attention. "Thome's always been kind of like my son," Manuel said. "He's the guy that I was around the longest. Manuel didn't split his allegiance on Friday, when Thome faced Bartolo Colon. Both players suited up for Manuel when he managed the Indians from 2000-02. Manuel, always a hitter at heart, had an easy choice. "[Thome] called me to tell me he had Bartolo Colon pitching against him," said Manuel. "I told him to go ahead and add Bartolo to that 500 list." Two days later, Thome is stuck on 499. Manuel knows Thome will reach 500, and he expects much more from his prized pupil. "It seems like he has some nagging injuries, and he's not the hitter he used to be," Manuel said. "That's because of his age. But if he's healthy, he's very capable of hitting 40 homers or better." Hairy: An informal survey of players most proud of their hair -- Kyle Kendrick, Kyle Lohse, J.D. Durbin and J.C. Romero -- revealed that none support the shaved Mohawk look of Shane Victorino. Durbin offered to sport the look for "a few thousand dollars," while Lohse gave an unenthusiastic "maybe" when asked if he could get behind a team-wide movement. "I'm being neutral, and obviously, I'd lean toward 'No,'" Lohse said. "In high school, the basketball team all shaved their heads and I looked like I got dropped on my head. It was just bad." Coming up: Kendrick will face the Cardinals in the series opener in St. Louis on Monday at 8:10 p.m. ET. The rookie's previous outing on Wednesday ended when Colorado's Garrett Atkins smashed a line drive off his right knee in the fourth inning. He had allowed a three-run homer to Matt Holliday in the third inning, the only runs he surrendered. Kendrick faced the Cardinals earlier this season, and allowed one run in seven innings for the win.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.