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Russell returns as Cubs fall to Astros 8-6

HOUSTON -- It looks as if Addison Russell is feeling much better.

Russell homered and drove in three runs in the Chicago Cubs' 8-6 exhibition loss to the Houston Astros on Thursday night. The All-Star shortstop had been sidelined by back soreness.

Russell singled in Ben Zobrist in the second and scored on Javier Baez's groundout. Kyle Schwarber added an RBI double, helping the Cubs to a 3-0 lead.

Russell connected for a two-run shot with one out in the third, making it 5-2. It was his sixth homer of the spring.

Josh Reddick hit a two-run homer for the Astros, and Jose Altuve belted a solo shot for his first homer of the spring. Right-hander Lance McCullers, who will start Houston's second game of the season Tuesday against Seattle, allowed five hits and five runs in four innings in his fifth and longest start this spring.

"First inning was pretty electric ... I think as the game got on he just lost command of almost everything and just couldn't find a consistent breaking ball," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I think his changeup, he was throwing it a little too hard and it kind of spiraled on him a little bit."

Although the numbers weren't what McCullers hoped for on Thursday night, he is happy to be entering the season healthy after starting last year on the disabled list.

"Whether or not I threw my best or not, being able to compete and throw a lot of pitches again and still being able to bounce back is a great sign for me," he said. "And I feel really good as far as my body and how I've been able to work midweek, so that's a positive moving into the season for sure."

Chicago starter Brett Anderson yielded eight hits and four runs, three earned, in five innings in his longest outing this spring.

"If this had been a regular-season game, it would have given us a chance to win," Anderson said. "So mostly positives going forward knowing my stuff will be better, can be better. And the fact that my body feels good and my arm feels good. I'll be ready for St. Louis and Milwaukee."

Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer for the reigning World Series champions.

Cubs reliever Hector Rondon had a tough night, allowing four hits and four runs without getting an out in the sixth inning. Rondon has allowed eight hits and six runs in 3 2/3 innings this spring.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Houston starter Collin McHugh, who will start the season on the 10-day disabled list after dealing with "dead arm" this spring, is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday in Florida. Hinch said McHugh will join the team in Houston for the opener on Monday before returning to Florida to continue his rehabilitation.

UP NEXT

Cubs: Right-hander Kyle Hendricks will make his sixth start of the spring when these teams wrap up exhibition play on Friday. Hendricks is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA over 16 2/3 innings.

Astros: Right-hander Joe Musgrove is scheduled to make his seventh start this spring on Friday. Musgrove, who will begin the season as Houston's fourth starter, is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA over 22 innings.

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