The Gulls offered spirited resistance until Phillips struck in the 70th minute, with McGurk wrapping up he points with his third goal in two games 10 minutes later.
Albion made a lively start but McGurk headed too high before flashing a left-foot shot narrowly wide.
Karl Hawley went equally close for the visitors with a shot on the turn, but the home side looked the more dangerous and skipper Ian Sharps had a header cleared off the line.
Billy Kee also went close against his former club in the 38th minute with a 15-yard shot that was pushed round a post by Torquay goalkeeper Martin Rice.
McGurk was unlucky not to give Burton the lead when his swerving free-kick thumped a post in added time at the end of the first half.
Gary Rowett's side finally got the goal they deserved when Kee's shot came back off a post and Phillips followed up to rifle home.
Kee then threaded a pass through for McGurk to take his tally for the season to six goals with a shot into the far corner of the net.