PHILADELPHIA — Hunter Pence is adding his big bat to a pennant race.
Philadelphia is counting on its latest All-Star acquisition from Houston to do what Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt did before him — help take the team with the best record in baseball deep into the postseason.
The Phillies made another deadline splash Friday night, acquiring Pence from the Astros for a package of highly rated prospects.
“He’s a guy that I think our fans will take to very well,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
The NL East-leading Phillies got the right fielder and cash from Houston for three minor leaguers and a player to be named, shoring up their lineup as they try to make it back to the World Series for the third time in four years.
Amaro is developing a knack for pulling off big deals right before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline. He acquired ace left-hander Cliff Lee in 2009 and righthander Oswalt last year.
“Hopefully he comes in, fits in and helps us,” Lee said.
Oswalt helped pitch the Phillies to the NL championship series last year. Before the 2008 season, the Phillies got Lidge from the Astros and he went 48 for 48 in save opportunities and led them to a World Series championship.
The 28-year-old Pence began the day with a .309 batting average, 11 homers and 62 RBIs.
Houston nabbed two of Philadelphia’s top prospects in first baseman Jonathan Singleton and right-hander Jarred Cosart. But the Phillies managed to hold onto talented outfielder Domonic Brown.
The 19-year-old Singleton was batting .282 with nine homers and 47 RBIs for Class-A Clearwater. He was selected by the Phillies in the eighth round of the 2009 draft.
The 21-year-old Cosart was 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 20 games, 19 starts, for Clearwater.
Rebuilding Houston also got 25-year-old righty Josh Zeid, who was 2-3 with two saves and a 5.65 ERA in 21 games, 11 starts, for Double-A Reading.
Amaro said the Phillies were able to stay under the luxury tax. He also refused to say he was done dealing before Sunday’s deadline.
“Right now, I’m very comfortable with our ballclub,” he said.
Pence comes with a favorable contract situation; Philadelphia can bring him back with relative ease for each of the next two seasons. His age and contract made him more appealing to the Phillies than a slugger like Carlos Beltran, traded Thursday from the New York Mets to the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Beltran is a free agent at the end of this season.
“I don’t like rentals,” Amaro said. “I don’t believe in those.”
The Phillies have needed a righty batter with pop since Jayson Werth signed with the Washington Nationals over the winter. Manager Charlie Manuel said Pence would bat fifth Saturday against Pittsburgh and play right field.
He’ll provide some protection for Ryan Howard, allowing Shane Victorino to move into second in the lineup. Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez, who join Howard as the Phillies’ top home run threats, are all lefties.
The Phillies have to make a roster move Saturday and Brown could be demoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.