(Sports Network) - For the second straight season, the Philadelphia Phillies have acquired one of the top available pitchers prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. The timing couldn't be better, as the club has used a season-high winning streak to make up ground in the National League East.
The second-place Phillies hope newly-acquired Roy Oswalt can pitch them to a ninth straight victory this evening in the opener of a three-game series with the hosting Washington Nationals.
Philadelphia was a bigger winner at last year's deadline, getting Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians for a handful of prospects. Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 earned run average in 12 regular-season starts with the Phillies, helping them reach the World Series for a second straight season.
Lee was traded this offseason to Seattle for prospects after the Phils nabbed Roy Halladay from Toronto in a deal. But with Jaime Moyer injured, Joe Blanton struggling and little depth in the rotation this year, the Phillies sent pitcher J.A. Happ and two prospects to the Houston Astros on Thursday for Oswalt, who will team with Halladay and Cole Hamels at the top of Philadelphia's rotation.
"It's exciting for sure," Oswalt told MLB.com. "I think it works out for both of us. Houston's getting good prospects and another pitcher, and I'm getting to go to a great team. I'm happy for both sides. From the very beginning, I said I wouldn't accept it unless it worked out for both of us, and I think it worked out."
The right-handed Oswalt is just 6-12 on the season despite a 3.42 ERA, but was averaging just 2.26 runs of support in his 20 starts, Houston's offense was limited to two runs or less in 12 of those outings and scored just four runs over Oswalt's last six starts with the Astros.
Oswalt, who had to waive a no-trade clause to make the deal happen, leaves Houston having gone 143-82 with a 3.24 ERA in 303 games (291 starts) over nine-plus seasons, leaving him one victory shy of tying Joe Niekro for most wins in franchise history.
The 32-year-old is 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA lifetime versus the Nats, who pounded him for four runs on four hits and three walks in a loss on May 31. Oswalt's frustration got the better of him that night, and he was ejected after just 2 1/3 innings of work for his shortest outing of the season.
Oswalt joins a Phillies club that has won eight in a row to get within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Braves. Philadelphia's bullpen blew a ninth-inning lead in Thursday's finale of a three-game series with Arizona, but Wilson Valdez hit the Phils to victory with a game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning of a 3-2 triumph.
Philadelphia hits the road for six straight after winning all seven games of its homestand. It marked its first perfect homestand of at least six games since Aug. 6-12, 1991.
The Nationals gave the Phillies some help on Thursday when they knocked off the Braves, 5-3, to take two of three in the series and win for the fourth time in 12 games. Their reward is a matchup with Oswalt.
"[Oswalt's] a power pitcher. A lot of us have faced him plenty," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "It's not like a new guy we've ever faced before, but he's been one of the better pitchers in the league the last 10 years and he comes right at you."
Ian Desmond and Adam Dunn, who could see himself traded prior to Saturday's deadline, both homered for Washington and Scott Olsen got the win after allowing three runs -- two earned -- over six innings in his return from the disabled list.
Matt Capps notched his 26th save for Washington, but was then traded after the game to the Twins. In return, the Nationals received Wilson Ramos, one of the top catching prospects in baseball, and minor league pitcher Joe Testa.
Craig Stammen draws the unfortunate task of opposing Oswalt in his Phillies debut. The right-hander has struggled against Philadelphia in two career starts -- both this year -- allowing 11 runs in 6 1/3 total innings without a decision. The bulk of that damage came on April 14, when he gave up seven runs over just 1 1/3 frames.
Stammen is 2-4 with a 5.50 ERA this year and winless in four starts since a victory on June 29. The 26-year-old has gone 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA in that time and got a no-decision versus Milwaukee on Friday after allowing three runs on five hits over five innings.
The Phillies have won four of six over Washington this year, taking two of three at Nationals Park from April 5-8. Philadelphia is 22-5 over its last 27 meetings versus Washington and won seven of nine in D.C. last year.