Pedro Astacio, Ugueth Urbina and a bevy of bullpen arms changed teams Tuesday, with pitching at a premium as contenders scrambled to beat baseball's trade deadline.
Relievers Mike Williams, Mike Trombley and Terry Mulholland were on the move, while Atlanta filled a need by acquiring shortstop Rey Sanchez.
There were eight deals in all, with the Houston Astros making two of them -- they got Astacio and cash from Colorado for pitcher Scott Elarton and a player to be named, and obtained Williams from Pittsburgh for minor league pitcher Tony McKnight.
''Astacio is a guy that obviously is not having a great year,'' Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker said. ''But take him away from Coors Field and he's pitched better away from home.''
''He's a guy with great intensity and great fire. He's a guy capable of pitching some big games and a guy I think has a chance to come up big for us down the stretch,'' he said.
Said Astacio: ''I really never thought that any ballpark makes that much difference. People always ask me what it's like to pitch in Coors Field. I don't worry about any park.''
The Los Angeles Dodgers were busy, too. They got Trombley from Baltimore for two minor leaguers and Mulholland from Pittsburgh for pitcher Mike Fetters and a minor leaguer.
Teams had until 4 p.m. EDT to complete trades.
''I was kind of prepared not to make any moves. At 3:50, I thought it was over. The deal went down at 3:59:25,'' Baltimore vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift said.
From now until the rest of the season, teams can make trades only if they pass players through waivers. That happened several times last year -- the New York Yankees got Luis Sojo in early August, and he wound getting the hit that won the World Series.
Several teams took care of business in the week leading up to deadline day.
The Chicago Cubs acquired slugger Fred McGriff, the Yankees got starter Sterling Hitchcock, Oakland obtained Jermaine Dye, Minnesota traded for Rick Reed, Philadelphia got Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook, and San Francisco dealt for Jason Schmidt and Andres Galarraga.
A couple of teams that were expected to make trades instead stood pat. Toronto talked about trading Jose Cruz Jr., Shannon Stewart and pitcher Kelvim Escobar, Cincinnati discussed deals for Pokey Reese and Dmitri Young and the New York Mets considered a move with Glendon Rusch.
''We were close on a couple of deals,'' Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash said. ''In the last hour there was a flurry of phone calls but for whatever reason nothing materialized.
''It's disappointing not to get something done,'' he said.
The NL East-leading Braves got Sanchez from Kansas City for a pair of minor leaguers, pitcher Brad Voyles and second baseman Alejandro Machado.
Atlanta is aiming at its 10th straight postseason appearance and wanted to make a move after losing 2000 NL Rookie of the Year Rafael Furcal to a season-ending shoulder injury. Sanchez, who was hitting .303, is more known for his outstanding glove.
''It's hard to turn your back on a guy who can add that kind of defense to your club,'' Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. ''You want to have the strongest defense possible up the middle. We've won a lot of games with pitching and defense.''
Astacio was 6-13 with a 5.49 ERA and had won just once in his last 10 starts. Elarton also struggled, going 4-8 with a 7.14 ERA.
''Unfortunately, this year has not been good at all,'' Elarton said. ''I wouldn't be standing here right now if I'd had a good season. It's a business, and you've got to treat it that way.''
Williams had 22 saves for Pittsburgh, and joins a bullpen that includes closer Billy Wagner, Octavio Dotel and Mike Jackson.
Urbina, nearly traded to the New York Yankees in June, instead was sent to the rival Red Sox for minor league pitchers Tomo Ohka and Rich Rundles.
The Red Sox needed bullpen help, with closer Derek Lowe struggling all season, and found it with Urbina.
''He's death to right-handed hitters,'' Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette said. ''If you need a strikeout in a key situation, he can provide that.''
In other trades, St. Louis sent reliever Jason Christiansen to San Francisco Giants for minor leaguer and a player to be named or cash and Montreal traded outfielder Milton Bradley to Cleveland for minor league pitcher Zach Day.
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