HOUSTON (AP) — Former Philadelphia general manager Ed Wade took the same job with the Houston Astros on Thursday, two years after the Phillies fired him when his eight-season tenure ended without a trip to the playoffs.

Wade emerged from an exhaustive search that lasted nearly a month and included 11 official interviews. The 51-year-old was interviewed a second time hours before he was hired. He spent time in the Astros’ public relations department early in a career that started in 1977.

He spent the past two seasons as a scout for San Diego.

“In the final analysis, the 31 years of experience he brings to the game is what really makes the difference,” said team president Tal Smith, who has served as interim GM since Tim Purpura and manager Phil Garner were fired Aug. 27.

Wade’s final years in Philadelphia were tough. He was heavily criticized for his reluctance to make significant moves before the trade deadline and for giving big-money, long-term contracts to players who underachieved.

He replaced Lee Thomas in 1998 after serving as his assistant for eight years. He had two years remaining on his contract but wasn’t offered another job in the organization.

Wade inherited a team that had finished last two straight years and had posted a losing record in 10 of the previous 11 seasons. He fired Terry Francona after the 2000 season, hired Larry Bowa and rebuilt the team around young stars such as Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins.

Francona won a World Series with Boston in 2004, the same year Wade fired Bowa and replaced him with Charlie Manuel, another move that was criticized.

The Astros, who played in their first World Series two years ago, entered Thursday tied for last in the NL Central.

Others who interviewed included former Dodgers general manager Dan Evans, former Astros general manager Bob Watson and Philadelphia assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr.

“Each (of the candidates) had great credentials, experience,” owner Drayton McLane said. “This decision is, in the 15 years now that our family has been involved with the Astros, one of the single most important decisions.”

Bench coach Cecil Cooper was named interim manager when Garner was fired. Commissioner Bud Selig, who owned the Milwaukee Brewers when Cooper played there, has endorsed Cooper for the job.