ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Brad Snyder fielded Erick Aybar’s grounder and threw home with all the confidence and accuracy of a career outfielder filling in at first base.
When the throw sailed past catcher Robinson Chirinos to the backstop, the Texas Rangers were well on their way to another defeat.
Garrett Richards pitched six innings of four-hit ball, David Freese drove in two runs, and the Los Angeles Angels beat Texas 7-3 on Friday night for just their fourth win in 18 games against the Rangers.
Snyder has been an outfielder for most of a career spent largely in the minors, but he is learning on the job at first base for a club missing injured star Prince Fielder. After Josh Hamilton walked and advanced on Howie Kendrick’s double in the fourth against Joe Saunders, two runs scored when Snyder couldn’t make the play to the plate.
“That was a big situation,” Snyder said. “I feel terrible doing that to Joe, but I’m going to keep working and try and pick him up next time.”
Michael Choice homered and Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to 10 games for the Rangers, who have lost three straight and eight of 12. The Angels went up in the fifth inning against Saunders, who remained winless in six starts for Texas.
Saunders (0-3) gave up 10 hits and three walks while losing for the fourth time in five starts against his former team. The left-hander began his major league career in Anaheim and spent parts of six seasons with the club.
“It wasn’t my best, let’s put it that way,” Saunders said. “Honestly, it was kind of a battle from pitch one. I felt like I was just a tick off all night long. … I made some good pitches, and they still made me pay for it.”
Texas had an early lead after Leonys Martin walked, stole second, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Andrus’ single in the third. Cron replied later in the inning with his fourth homer of the season, an impressive shot into the elevated right-field stands.
C.J. Cron homered in the third, and Hamilton and Howie Kendrick scored on Snyder’s throwing error in the fourth.
“I just think he panicked,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I think he had the guy at the plate real easily. I’m almost certain sure if he had more experience doing something like that, it would have been different. He’s not used to throwing the ball that short. Those are wrist throws. He’s an outfielder. He throws with his arm. So there’s a lot of things he has to learn over there, and some of it we can’t correct until we see it.”
Hamilton and Aybar had RBI singles in the fifth inning as the Angels opened a six-game homestand.
Richards (7-2) needed a career-high 119 pitches, but still struck out seven and didn’t allow an extra-base hit while shutting down another opponent in his breakthrough season. He has yielded just two earned runs in 27 innings over his last four starts after giving up only Andrus’ third-inning RBI single.
“It was nice to be able to get stretched out a little bit,” Richards said of his record pitch count. “My arm feels good. As long as I don’t give up many runs, it’s all right.”
Not everything went perfectly for the Angels: Mike Trout went 0 for 3 with a walk, snapping his 13-game hit streak, the second-longest of his career.
Trout and Albert Pujols walked and scored on singles in the fifth, and Freese drove in Hamilton moments later to chase Saunders.
NOTES: Los Angeles recalled versatile INF Grant Green from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game, and he replaced Pujols in the sixth inning for his first major league appearance at first base. Green batted .359 in 22 games with the Angels earlier this season, but was sent down for a lack of playing time. … Trout struck out looking in his first two at-bats, leading to an animated conversation with home plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Trout leads the Angels with 73 strikeouts. … The Angels are 11-4 in Richards’ starts this season and 28-29 in other pitchers’ starts. … Ben Rowen, the Rangers’ submarining right-handed reliever, pitched 3 1-3 innings of one-hit relief in his third major league appearance. He is from nearby Rancho Palos Verdes.