Pudge, Cooper ejected in eighth

Pudge, Cooper ejected in eighth

HOUSTON -- It didn't take J.R. Towles long to get into a game after he was called up from Triple-A. In fact, he made it to the ballpark just in time for his 2009 big league debut.

Towles received word that he was needed in Houston around 2 p.m. CT on Saturday, soon after Humberto Quintero was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Towles began the three-hour drive from Round Rock around 3:30, and he arrived to Minute Maid Park in the first inning.

By the eighth, he was in the game, following home-plate umpire Mike DiMuro's ejection of catcher Pudge Rodriguez and manager Cecil Cooper.

"I kind of froze, because I wasn't expecting it," Towles said. "I thought, 'Is there another catcher here?' But I was like, 'Whoa, I am. I guess I better get ready.' [I] didn't warm up, didn't stretch -- nothing."

Rodriguez was ejected after he argued a ball-two call during Mike Cameron's at-bat against LaTroy Hawkins. Rodriguez grew more agitated as he argued with DiMuro, and soon, Cooper joined in and was also tossed.

"[Rodriguez] was just asking, 'Where was [the pitch]?'" Cooper said. "He turned around and asked him. He was trying to hold it to make sure the guy got a good look. He turned around and asked him and [DiMuro] said, 'Don't show me up.' I don't think he actually showed him up."

Hawkins and third-base coach Dave Clark stepped in to try to calm Rodriguez, who eventually walked away from the umpire. That's when Cooper walked back over to DiMuro to finish the argument. Soon after, DiMuro tossed Cooper.

Rodriguez was not available for comment after the game.

"I told him it wasn't a reason to throw him out of the ballgame," Cooper said of his conversation with DiMuro. "It was just a bad decision. That's when things started to escalate a little bit. I was trying to make sure Pudge gets out. But I knew I wasn't finished.

"I had to go back and tell him that he blew a bunch of calls tonight. He was missing a lot of pitches. Our guys were complaining, and I had to tell him. I told him, and he said, 'You're out of here.' I thought he had a bad zone."

Cooper wasn't the only one. Lance Berkman had an animated exchange with DiMuro after he was called out on strikes in the seventh inning. Carlos Lee was also called out on strikes, twice.

"It's just frustrating," Berkman said. "When you're not hitting well and you're struggling to get anything going, you just get frustrated. The beauty of baseball is when you're struggling, it seems like you get a lot of those calls. I think a lot of it is just frustration kind of blowing up."

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