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Almora's slam 1 of 6 HRs as Texas ties Cubs

Special to MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Cubs hit a grand slam for the second consecutive day Sunday as Albert Almora Jr.'s fifth-inning shot gave them the lead over the Rangers, but Texas strung together three homers in the seventh and eighth innings, including Drew Robinson's two-run blast, to end the game deadlocked at 9 after nine innings.

Robinson's homer in the seventh -- his second in the past three games -- pulled the Rangers within 9-7, and Jared Hoying and Jason Martinson homered off Cubs reliever Caleb Smith, a Rule 5 pickup, in the eighth to tie the game.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Cubs hit a grand slam for the second consecutive day Sunday as Albert Almora Jr.'s fifth-inning shot gave them the lead over the Rangers, but Texas strung together three homers in the seventh and eighth innings, including Drew Robinson's two-run blast, to end the game deadlocked at 9 after nine innings.

Robinson's homer in the seventh -- his second in the past three games -- pulled the Rangers within 9-7, and Jared Hoying and Jason Martinson homered off Cubs reliever Caleb Smith, a Rule 5 pickup, in the eighth to tie the game.

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Willson Contreras added a two-run homer and Tommy La Stella hit a solo shot for the Cubs in the first as each team went deep three times at Surprise Stadium.

Video: CHC@TEX: Contreras belts a two-run home run

Rangers starter Nick Martinez, a candidate for the team's fifth rotation spot, allowed two earned runs in two innings. But eight of the 12 batters he faced reached base.

"I wasn't quite in sync," Martinez said. "I executed some good pitches at the right time, I was able to minimize, and on those pitches I was better in sync with my mechanics. They did damage on balls that I left elevated ... I was just rushed, I just wasn't quite staying behind. Now I know what I need to do to get myself back on track."

Video: CHC@TEX: La Stella hits a solo home run to left field

Martinez was off the hook, though, after the Rangers scored two runs in the second inning off Cubs starter Jon Lester, who was making his spring debut, and tacked on three runs in the third off new Cubs closer Wade Davis.

Lester, who will start Opening Day for the Cubs, said he threw mostly fastballs as he continues to build up arm strength.

"The first [start] is always the hardest because it's the first one," Lester said. "It's the first time getting on the mound, getting in the element of fans and the warmup. That's the biggest thing is just getting through it."

Video: CHC@TEX: Martinson homers to tie the game in the 8th

Cubs Up Next: Jake Arrieta will make his first spring start Monday when the Cubs face the Angels in Tempe. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CT. Arrieta is coming off a season in which he went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA. Anthony Rizzo was expected back in the lineup after missing four games because of tightness in his back. Watch live on MLB.TV.

Rangers Up Next: A.J. Griffin will make his first start and third appearance of the spring in Peoria at 2:05 p.m. CT as the Rangers take on the Mariners and lefty Drew Smyly. Griffin was banged around in the Cactus League opener Feb. 25, allowing three earned runs in two innings, but he threw three scoreless innings and allowed just one hit in his second outing on March 1.live on MLB.TV.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.

Albert Almora Jr., Jon Lester, Nick Martinez