HOUSTON -- With his Major League debut under his belt, Astros reliever David Carpenter plans to give the baseball he used to record his first Major League strikeout to his father, who was in attendance for Houston's 7-0 win on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
Carpenter, who was called up Wednesday after throwing 19 consecutive scoreless innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City, needed only 16 pitches to throw a perfect eighth inning, striking out Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry swinging for his first out.
"Lot of nerves," Carpenter said. "But it was everything I hoped it would be. [Oklahoma City teammate Nelson] Figueroa told me there's nothing like that first time going out there, and he was right. I tried to keep my nerves about me and tried to stay calm and work in the zone, work quick and try to get ahead of guys. I fell behind a couple of times, but I was able to work my way around it."
Astros interim pitching coach Doug Brocail helped Carpenter retrieve the ball he used to strike out Gentry after it was fouled into the stands during the next at-bat, presenting it to him in the dugout.
"It's definitely a special ball," Carpenter said. "It's going straight to dad, because he spent the most time with me in the backyard. It's definitely a special occasion."
Carpenter's father, Darrell, who made the trip to Houston from West Virginia along with David's mother, Barbara, and girlfriend, Brooke Keene, said he couldn't have been more proud of his son.
"It was very exciting," he said. "I was very proud of him. To come out with the first batter he faced and strike him out was just amazing to me. To battle back from being down, 3-0, to get the second out, I couldn't ask for a better outing. If he was half as nervous as I was, he didn't show."
Towles returns to catch Wandy's start
HOUSTON -- J.R. Towles returned to the starting lineup and was catching Wandy Rodriguez on Thursday night for the first time since Rodriguez's last start on Friday.
Towles left that game in the third inning and received 11 stitches after taking a foul tip off his chin. The catcher said his mask has since been altered to provide more protection.
"I've got some padding on it, so it's a little farther from my face," he said. "Not much, but just a little to keep it off the cut."
Rodriguez allowed four runs in the third inning after Towles left the game and took his first loss since April. He pitched two scoreless innings before Towles left and allowed five runs in his next four frames.
"He's more familiar with J.R, Wandy is," said manager Brad Mills. "They've worked well together."
Carlos Corporan played the rest of that game in Towles' stead.
"He spreads out a little bit wider than I do, and he gets a little lower sometimes," Towles said. "He just does a couple different things that are a little different for the pitcher, and the pitcher's got to get used to that."
Towles has taken a beating behind the plate in the last few weeks, but the rest has him feeling better.
"Hopefully things turn around," Towles said. "Luck's got to turn. It can't be bad all the time."
Lyon has surgery, expected to miss season
HOUSTON -- Astros relief pitcher Brandon Lyon underwent surgery Thursday in Pensacola, Fla., to repair the detachment of his right biceps tendon and to also mend a tear in his labrum.
The surgery was performed by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews and assisted by Astros orthopedist Dr. David Lintner. Lyon will start motion exercises in approximately two weeks and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.
Lyon, in the second year of a three-year, $15 million contract, went 3-3 with an 11.48 ERA in 15 games, battling arm injuries for much of the season. He blew four saves in five chances, including Opening Day in Philadelphia, before going on the DL.
Lyon, 31, went 6-6 with a 3.12 ERA in a career-high 79 games for the Astros last year, saving 20 games in 22 chances. He allowed only two homers in 78 innings, but this season he had allowed four homers in 13 1/3 innings.
Clark doesn't second-guess himself
HOUSTON -- Astros third-base coach Dave Clark was subjected to a smattering of boos in the seventh inning on Wednesday night when he held Clint Barmes at third base on a two-out double by Carlos Corporan. Both wound up stranded, and the Astros lost, 3-2, to the Rangers.
The call, however, was the correct one. Ian Kinsler's relay throw from right fielder Mitch Moreland was on the money, and Barmes likely would have been out. Even second-base umpire Bob Davidson told Clark he made the right call when the inning was over, something Clark said was unprecedented for an umpire to do.
"If that's Michael Bourn or Hunter Pence or Jason Bourgeois, 99.9 percent of the time I'm sending them," Clark said. "I even went back and looked at the replay on that, and Moreland had the ball in his hand and Barmie hadn't even got to third base. On the relay throw when Kinsler had the ball in his hand, Barmie was just at the box.
"I'm up the line and looking and seeing everything, seeing if there's a bobble and things like that. If there's a bobble, I've got to take my chances. I go back and looked at the play and replayed it in my head, and there's no way I could have sent him. As soon as Barmie got to third base he said, 'I would have been out,' and I said, 'Yeah, you really would have been.'"
When it comes to hearing boos from the crowd, Clark can deal with it, especially when he knows he made the right call.
"I do have tough skin, and I don't get mad," he said. "It's part of the game. They pay their money and they can boo all they want, but I know what I'm out there trying to do is help win a ballgame and my decisions a lot of times are crucial. When I feel like I've made the right decision, I can go home and sleep good at night."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com, and Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.