The 51-year-old Gilder, who was named the 2001 Senior Tour Rookie of the Year on the strength of two victories and 11 other top-10 finishes last year, is in line to win for the fourth time in his last seven starts this season.
'In the position I'm in, I know how to win now,' said Gilder, who posted a two-day total of 13-under-par 131. 'I just try to play one shot at a time and that's worked well.'
Ed Dougherty made five birdies and holed a shot from the 10th fairway for eagle in his round of 65. He shared second place at 12-under with first-round leader Andy North, who backed up his course-record-tying 64 from Friday with a 4-under 68.
Tom Kite matched the TPC at River's Bend 18-hole mark with an 8-under 64 that gave him sole possession of fourth at 11-under 133. He tallied seven birdies and added an eagle at the 539-yard, par-5 11th, where he chipped in from off the green.
Kite could have had the course record to himself were it not for a dropped shot at the par-5 sixth. After his second shot finished off the back of the green at the 570-yard hole, Kite produced a poor chip then three-putted for a bogey six.
'It was a little demoralizing,' Kite said of the bogey, which was just his second of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Gilder has played the first 36 holes in bogey-free fashion. Two strokes back of North after a 66 in the first round, he rolled in a 10-foot putt followed by a pair of four-footers for successive birdies at the second, third and fourth holes Saturday. At the long sixth Gilder two-putted for birdie to break into double figures under par.
Gilder climbed to 11-under after he took two putts to get down from 40 feet for birdie on the 11th green. He hit iron approaches in close for two more birdies at the 14th and 15th.
'I feel I'm in better control of my iron play this week than last,' said Gilder, who captured his third event of the season and fifth of his Senior Tour career at last week's Allianz Championship. 'I'm giving myself a lot of chances and I'm putting pretty well.'
He hit 13 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in round two. For the season, Gilder is ranked sixth on the Senior Tour in putting average and he's first in total birdies. He is currently second on the 2002 money list behind Hale Irwin with $1,701,709.
Gilder earned back-to-back playoff victories at the SBC Senior Open and the FleetBoston Classic in late July. A win Sunday would give him consecutive Senior Tour titles for the second time this year.
Full-field scores from the Kroger Senior Classic