HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills was ejected from a game for the first time in his Major League managerial career for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth inning of Sunday's game against the Padres at Minute Maid Park.
Mills was ejected by home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, who had thrown out Michael Bourn a night earlier for arguing a call at first base. Mills argued with Marquez in the top of the fifth inning Sunday, when a pitch thrown by Roy Oswalt to Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer was called a ball. Stauffer wound up hitting a two-run double on a 2-2 count.
In the bottom of the inning, Stauffer threw a similar pitch down in the zone that was called a strike, prompting Mills to yell from the dugout at Marquez, who threw him out. Mills came onto the field and argued with Marquez for a few minutes before walking off the field to a standing ovation.
Coincidentally, Mills spoke at length before Sunday's game with reporters and said the idea of managers getting thrown out on purpose to pump up a team is overrated, though it does have its place.
"If you've got a legitimate argument, then you can pile on," he said.
Bourn may be slapped with fine
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills said he believes Gold Glove Award-winning center fielder Michael Bourn could be facing a fine after apparently bumping first-base umpire Alfonso Marquez while arguing a close play at first during Saturday's loss to the Padres.
"Eventually, in a couple of days," Mills said. "He got a little excited, there's no doubt about it. Tensions are high, and that had something to do with it."
Mills went out to argue the call at first base, which was extremely close, and didn't know Bourn had been ejected until he got back into the dugout. After looking at replays following the game, Mills believes the umpire may have gotten the call right.
"It looks like he might have been out," Mills said. "I want to defend my player. I'm glad to see him show that emotion, don't get me wrong. If he thinks he's safe, I'm going to defend him, but it looks like [Marquez] might have gotten that one right. I'm not going to sit there and say otherwise if I think otherwise."
Wade surprised by offensive travails
HOUSTON -- General manager Ed Wade knew coming into the season the Astros would have some offensive question marks at shortstop and catcher, but the thing that put his mind at ease was knowing he could count on production from middle-of-the-order sluggers Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence.
Those three hitters were batting a combined .199 with five homers and 23 RBIs entering Sunday's game against the Padres, which is a big reason why the Astros lost 21 of their first 30 games. Houston's .225 team batting average was tied with Seattle for last in the Majors.
"Yeah, I'm baffled," Wade said. "You go through all the emotions. Of all the words you could use, we can't become resigned to this is what it is, because then we're basically saying some guys with pretty substantial track records of success are now failing, and we have to accept that.
"I don't think it's an acceptable fact. I think they have to battle their way out of it, and I think there's a lot left in the tank for guys struggling the most right now. We have to try to get a way out of it, and I think there's a lot left in the tank for the guys struggling the most right now."
Wade said the Astros have to stick with Lee, Berkman and Pence, and they have to trust that they will find a way to hit out of their slumps.
"I can't remember a time where three established hitters -- and if you want to throw [Pedro] Feliz in there at this point, four established hitters -- have collectively gone through this type of struggle at the same time," he said.
Feliz closing in on hit No. 1,000
HOUSTON -- Third baseman Pedro Feliz entered Sunday's game against the Padres needing one hit to reach 1,000 for his career. He collected his first career hit off the Padres' Carlos Almanzar in 2000 when Feliz played for the Giants.
"I should have more than that because I've been playing 10 years," Feliz joked. "Obviously, it's a great number. I don't think about it. I go in there and instead of one, I want to get two and go from there. I'm just worrying about when it's going to be the last one."
Feliz, who's in his first season with the Astros, isn't the only Astros player chasing a milestone. Entering Sunday, Lance Berkman needed 27 runs for 1,000 and six walks for 1,000; Roy Oswalt needed six wins for a club record 145; and Carlos Lee needed 50 runs for 1,000.
Last year, the Astros had several players reach big milestones: Berkman, Lee and catcher Ivan Rodriguez each hit their 300th homers last year, marking the first time three players hit career homer No. 300 for one team in the same year. Berkman also reached 1,000 career RBIs last year.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.