The Oakland Athletics, hours after trading for four-time all-star Harold Baines, acquired outfielder Willie McGee -- the National League's second-leading hitter -- from the St. Louis Cardinals last night for outfielder Felix Jose and a pair of minor-leaguers.

McGee, 31, was batting .335 for the Cardinals. He had said he wouldn't return to the Cardinals when his contract expired at season's end.

The World Series champion A's, who lost, 6-0, at home last night to the Kansas City Royals, lead the West division by 6 1/2 games over Chicago.

Postseason rosters must be set by midnight Friday.

McGee, a switch-hitter who went two for five last night for the Cardinals, is second to Philadelphia's Lenny Dykstra in the batting race. McGee was the NL's most valuable player in 1985 when he led the league in hitting with a .353 average. He has appeared in four all-star games and three World Series.

To get McGee, the A's dealt Jose, who was batting .266 with eight home runs and 39 RBI entering last night, infielder Stan Royer and pitcher Daryl Green.

Royer, the A's No. 1 draft choice in 1988, batted .258 with 14 home runs and 89 RBI for Class AA Huntsville. Green was 4-2 wtih a 4.23 ERA in 39 games pitching at Class A and AA levels.

Baines, who had gone to Texas last season from Chicago, is a designated hitter whose 1990 numbers are .290 batting average, 13 homers and 44 RBI. He was obtained for two players to be named.

McGee should replace Dave Henderson, the Oakland center fielder who is sidelined following knee surgery. Baines probably will serve as the designated hitter.

The A's could have used a little more offense last night, as Kevin Appier pitched a four-hitter for his sixth consecutive victory. The Royals got home runs from Bo Jackson, Danny Tartabull and Jim Eisenreich.

Appier (11-4) did not allow a hit until Rickey Henderson beat out an infield single with two out in the sixth. He has not lost since July 28.