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07/29/11 7:56 PM ET

Pence in lineup, but rumors continue to swirl

MILWAUKEE -- The Astros remained in intense trade talks regarding All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence on Friday afternoon, specifically with the Philadelphia Phillies.

MLB.com has confirmed that Pence was briefly removed from the lineup prior to Thursday's game in St. Louis because of a potential trade but wound up staying in the order and going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles in the Astros' 5-3 win. Pence was in the lineup on Friday night for Houston's series opener against the Brewers, batting fourth.

Although there are reports that the Astros and Phillies have discussed a three-team deal, a person close to the situation told MLB.com on Friday that a two-team swap remains Houston's focus. The Astros are seeking several prospects for Pence, one of the most coveted players on the trade market. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is on Sunday afternoon at 3 CT.

Trade Include

The Atlanta Braves are also reportedly in the mix for Pence's services, but a Major League source said Pence isn't a priority for the Braves. The Reds have also reportedly shown an interest in Pence, but they're not willing to part with top prospects.

Astros general manager Ed Wade had no comment on any specific trade discussions.

The Astros are also getting heavy interest about Gold Glove center fielder Michael Bourn, left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and, to a lesser extent, right-hander Brett Myers.

Meanwhile, it doesn't appear Astros shortstop Clint Barmes is going anywhere. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said prior to Friday's game at Miller Park that the Astros haven't made Barmes available.

Pence, 28, entered Friday hitting .309 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs and made the National League All-Star team this year for the second time in his career. He's making $6.9 million this season and still has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, so any team acquiring Pence would have him under control for at least two more seasons.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.