A complicated, back-and-forth game got away from the Phillies on Sunday with that simple and painful explanation. Gordon was covering first on Chris Duncan's routine grounder to second baseman Chase Utley with two on and two outs in the 10th inning of a tie game.
Gordon got to the base in plenty of time and Utley made a good throw. The only problem was that for some reason, Gordon never saw the ball. The throw whizzed past a helpless Gordon, and Rick Ankiel came streaking home from second to give the Cardinals a 7-6 victory at Busch Stadium.
Gordon threw his cap down in frustration and later seemed bewildered by his inability to pick up the ball.
"I couldn't find it, couldn't locate it," Gordon said. "I was hoping it would hit me. I have no excuse."
Gordon couldn't cite any fundamental breakdown on the play. He got off the mound in good shape and took the proper route to the bag so that Utley had a desired throwing angle.
But you can't catch what you can't see.
"I got there quick enough," Gordon said. "I was prepared for the play. I was prepared to get over there. I don't know what else happened after that. I didn't see the baseball. That's it."
For those keeping score, it's the "4-1" play. The first baseman ranges to his right, but can't reach the ball. The second baseman makes the pickup and the pitcher has to cover first. But "4-1" turned out to be scary numbers for the Phils on Sunday.
The bottom of the 10th started with a play similar to the one which ended the game. Ankiel sent a grounder to Utley with two outs and nobody on. With Gordon covering, Utley made a wide throw for an error. After Troy Glaus singled, the Phils again couldn't execute the 4-1 play and left St. Louis having lost two of three in the weekend series.
Utley tried to take the blame for both errors in the 10th, saying he made not one but two bad throws. However, the official scorer immediately charged the second error to Gordon for not making the catch.
"Those were pretty routine plays," Utley said. "I fielded the first one cleanly and made a bad throw. And the second one, I made a bad throw. Unfortunately, it cost us the game. But from here on out, we've got to learn from our mistakes."
|"I got there quick enough. I was prepared for the play. I was prepared to get over there. I don't know what else happened after that. I didn't see the baseball. That's it."|
|-- Tom Gordon|
"I've made the play a lot of times in the past," Utley said. "Unfortunately, I didn't get it done today."
The Phillies (41-30) scrambled back to a 6-all tie after falling behind, 5-1, in the third. Starter Brett Myers has allowed 11 runs over 11 1/3 innings in his past two starts.
"I've got to stay away from the innings with the crooked numbers," said Myers, who gave up two runs in the first and three in the third. "I can't go out there and give up five or six runs. That's not me."
The Cardinals were up, 6-4, going to the eighth when the Phillies rallied to tie largely because of a patient approach at the plate. With two outs and nobody on, Jimmy Rollins tripled. Jayson Werth worked hard-throwing reliever Chris Perez for a walk, and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa went to lefty specialist Randy Flores against Utley and Ryan Howard. Both hitters refused to chase pitches off the plate. A walk to Utley loaded the bases and a walk to Howard drove in a run. Right-hander Russ Springer came on and walked Pat Burrell to force home the tying run.
The Phillies had runners at first and third with one out in the ninth when pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett tried to score on Rollins' tapper to first. Duncan's throw home was low and to the outside, forcing catcher Yadier Molina to dig in and make a backhanded swipe tag from a vulnerable position as Bruntlett crashed into him.
A hush fell over Busch Stadium as Molina stayed on the ground. He was eventually placed on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital to evaluate neck and back pain. After the game, he was diagnosed with a mild concussion.
The Phils had Gordon and Brad Lidge fresh for extra innings, but the fielding lapses in the 10th made for a sour finish to a 5-4 road trip.
"We didn't do some things very good today," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "That game was set there for us and we didn't get it. That could have been our game."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.