Rookies shine for Astros as Kessinger homers, Julks has 4 hits in 4-1 win over Rockies

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 04: Grae Kessinger #16 of the Houston Astros receives a handshake from Mauricio Dubon #14 after hitting a solo home run in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Minute Maid Park on July 04, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) (Bob Levey, 2023 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – Rookie Grae Kessinger hit his first career home run and fellow rookie Corey Julks had a career-high four hits to lead the Houston Astros to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday.

Julks had a double and RBI after being inserted into the lineup at designated hitter after Jose Altuve was scratched about 90 minutes before the game with discomfort in his left oblique.

Manager Dusty Baker said after the game that Altuve was injured during batting practice, but that he didn't have any more information on his injury. Although Baker didn't know the extent of Altuve's injury, he was disheartened to be dealing with another injury in a season that has already been filled with them.

“It’s tough to take, but you've got to move on,” he said. “You have no choice. You feel terrible, especially for the injured player and for the team, but, you just ... say, hey, next man up.”

Baker talked about the offense his young players provided Tuesday for a team that is also missing star slugger Yordan Alvarez.

“They're here to play and to perform and we've given them a chance because we need them and we need them to play well,” Baker said.

Brandon Bielak (4-4) allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings for the win. He tied a career-high by walking four batters, but was helped by a defense that turned double plays in the first and fifth innings.

Mauricio Dubón had two hits, including a triple, to help the Astros extend their winning streak to three games.

Colorado starter Kyle Freeland (4-9) yielded nine hits for the third time in four games and gave up four runs to remain winless since May 14.

The Rockies didn’t get on the board until a solo homer by Kris Bryant with one out in the ninth inning. It was his first home run since returning from the injured list Friday.

There was one out in the third when Kessinger sent a hanging curveball from Freeland 397 feet to left-center to put the Astros up 1-0.

“It was awesome,” he said. “And then you get to the dugout and everybody is excited for you. It’s hard to put into words.”

Kessinger became the third generation of his family to hit a MLB homer, joining his grandfather, Don Kessinger (1964-1979), and his uncle, Keith Kessinger (1993).

The youngest Kessinger wasn't able to get his home run ball back.

“But I'll still take the homer,” he said with a smile.

Jake Meyers singled to start Houston’s fifth and scored on the triple by Dubón with one out in the inning to make it 2-0. Dubón’s liner to right field landed just out of reach of diving right fielder Nolan Jones and allowed Meyers to slide in just before the ball arrived at home plate.

Freeland had to duck to avoid a comebacker hit by Julks for a single that pushed the lead to 3-0. Freeland tumbled to the ground backwards after the ball sailed over his head. He was checked out by a trainer after the spill but remained in the game.

Kyle Tucker singled after that, before José Abreu drew a two-out walk to load the bases. But Freeland retired Chas McCormick to limit the damage.

Julks singled with no outs in the seventh and Freeland retired Tucker before being replaced by Gavin Hollowell. Alex Bregman walked before Abreu grounded into a force out that left Julks out at third, but an error by Ryan McMahon on the play allowed Bregman to move to third.

McCormick singled on a grounder to left field to score Bregman and make it 4-0. A walk by Yainer Díaz loaded the bases before Hollowell struck out Meyers to end the inning.


Astros: Baker said SS Jeremy Peña (stiff neck) is scheduled to return to the lineup Wednesday after missing five games. … LF Michael Brantley, who has been out all season after shoulder surgery last year, has been shut down from baseball activities for a few days after having a setback. … LHP Framber Valdez will make his scheduled start Thursday despite dealing with soreness in his right ankle.


Ezequiel Tovar went 0 for 3 with a strikeout to snap a career-long 15-game hitting streak, which was the longest active streak in the majors.


Houston RHP J.P. France (3-3, 3.13 ERA) opposes RHP Chase Anderson (0-3, 6.50) when the series wraps up Wednesday.


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