ANAHEIM -- Victory No. 1 for the Rangers continues to elude left-hander Joe Saunders.
Not even a return to his original Major League venue helped Friday night, as Saunders couldn't get out of the fifth inning against his former team in a 7-3 loss to the Angels at Angel Stadium.
"It wasn't my best tonight," said Saunders, who gave up 10 hits and seven runs -- although just four of the latter were earned -- in 4 2/3 innings. "Honestly, it was a battle from pitch one.
"I felt I was just a tick off all night long."
A fourth-inning throwing error by 32-year-old rookie Brad Snyder, a career outfielder who was playing just the ninth game of his life at first base (seven in the big leagues) made the three unearned runs possible as the Angels took a 4-1 lead.
In the fifth, though, Saunders' control deserted him, as he walked Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, then fell behind Josh Hamilton, 3-2, before the latter singled to drive in Trout, and start another three-run Angels inning. This one was capped by David Freese's second two-out RBI single of the night.
"I thought he [Saunders] did a good job for four innings," manager Ron Washington said after the Rangers' third loss in a row. "In the fifth, he just lost his command. He couldn't throw strikes, but he still made a pitch in [the fourth], and we couldn't make a play."
That was Erick Aybar's grounder to Snyder with runners at second and third and one out. Snyder hurried his throw and spiked it up the line, allowing both runners to score.
"I just think he panicked," Washington said of Snyder, a professional since 2003, who made his first two appearances at first base at Triple-A Round Rock before the Rangers recalled him June 10 with Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland lost for the season. "I'm sure if he had more experience there ... he's not used to making throws that short [as an outfielder].
"After that, he started playing good first base. He made some good plays there, picking balls out of the dirt."
Meanwhile, the Rangers could do little against Angels starter Garrett Richards (7-2) in his six-inning, 119-pitch outing. He allowed four hits, struck out seven and left with a 7-1 advantage.
"His fastball goes three different ways," Snyder said. "It cuts, sinks and goes away from you. And he's got a really good fastball."
Washington said Richards "was effectively wild. He threw balls all over the place, then he'd make a pitch. This guy has a tremendous arm."
The Rangers bullpen wasn't exhausted by Saunders' early exit, since rookie submariner Ben Rowen came in and got the final 10 outs.
"He did a good job," Washington said. "Threw strikes. Made them swing the bat. I didn't know we were going to get that much out of him, but he was so effective, we ended up getting almost four innings out of him."
The Rangers got two runs against the Angels bullpen, one on a Michael Choice home run in the seventh off Mike Morin, and the other set up by Snyder's double against Cory Rasmus in the eighth.
But they wasted a lot of chances early. Elvis Andrus had a two-out, RBI single in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. But the Rangers, who stole four bases in the first four innings, left a runner in scoring position in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, then one more in the seventh and eighth.
Slumping Shin-Soo Choo went 1-for-5 and struck out three times. He was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.
Choice's past four hits have all been homers, but that's over 27 at-bats, and he's hitting .196 overall.
The Rangers had won seven of their past eight against the Angels, including two of three in Anaheim in May, and 18 of their past 23 encounters.
Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.