The Angels re-established themselves as legitimate World Series contenders with a bold and dramatic move Friday, bolstering their sagging rotation by acquiring right-hander Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers for three prospects.

Shortstop Jean Segura and double-A pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena will go to the Brewers.

The deal was announced during batting practice before the Angels defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, at Angel Stadium, cutting the Texas Rangers' lead to four games in the American League West.

Greinke, 28, who won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award, will team with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren to give the Angels a rotation to rival the best in the game.

Two added bonuses: The Angels prevented Texas, which was pursuing Greinke, from acquiring the top pitcher on the market before Tuesday's nonwaiver trade deadline, and General Manager Jerry Dipoto pulled off the deal without giving up his top trade chips, pitcher Garrett Richards and center fielder Peter Bourjos.

"This guy is a bulldog, one of the elite pitchers in the game, and I'm glad he's on my side," said right fielder Torii Hunter, the former Minnesota Twins star who faced Greinke extensively in the AL Central. "He throws 93-94 mph, and and when he's [ticked], he throws 99."

The Angels are trying to catch the Rangers, who reached the World Series in 2010 and 2011. With an added emphasis on winning the division, Dipoto had to improve a rotation that had a 5.72 ERA in 24 games entering Friday and has been slowed by Haren's back injury and Ervin Santana's struggles.

The two wild-card winners in each league must play a one-game playoff to advance to the division series. The three division winners are automatically in.

It was clear last winter, when they spent $317.5 million to acquire first baseman Albert Pujols and Wilson, that the Angels were serious about returning to the World Series. With Friday's move, Dipoto reiterated that the Angels are all in.