(SportsNetwork.com) - The Texas Rangers hope to finish off their nine-game road trip with a positive record and begin the final leg of that stretch on Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Rangers have split the first six games of their road trip heading into tonight's opener of a three-game series. Texas picked up a series win in Seattle to open the trek, but then lost two of three in Oakland.
In Wednesday's rubber match, the Rangers lost 4-2. Nick Tepesch yielded all four runs over five innings to take the loss, while Shin-Soo Choo drove in both runs for Texas with a single in the fifth inning.
Texas will try to get off on the right foot in this series behind former Anaheim hurler Joe Saunders, who pitched with the Angels for five-plus seasons before getting traded during the 2010 campaign to Arizona.
Saunders, who spent last season with Seattle, is still looking for his first victory with Texas. He is 0-2 with a 3.46 earned run average through five starts.
The left-hander turned 34 this past Monday, two days after a no-decision in Seattle. Saunders yielded two runs on eight hits over six innings, not walking a batter after issuing 10 free passes in his first four starts.
Saunders is 1-3 with a 2.89 ERA in four previous starts against the Angels, who turn to the red-hot Garrett Richards tonight.
Richards has given up only one run in his last three starts, winning the first two games of that stretch before a no-decision in Atlanta on Saturday. He logged six scoreless innings, working around four hits and three walks while striking out a career-high 10.
The 26-year-old righty is 6-2 on the year with a 2.87 ERA, beating Texas on May 3. He allowed three runs and struck out nine over six frames, moving to 3-1 with a 4.58 ERA lifetime versus the Rangers in 11 games with seven starts.
The Angels have lost five of their past seven and lost the finale of a three- game series with the Cleveland Indians 5-3 in 10 innings on Thursday.
Albert Pujols put the Angels ahead with a two-run single in the top of the extra frame, but Ernesto Frieri yielded a grand slam to Nick Swisher in the bottom of the frame.
Frieri has been drilled for six earned runs on eight hits in 1 1/3 innings over his last three appearances.
"I'm really fighting," Frieri said. "I don't know ... It seems like nothing goes my way."
The Rangers have won 16 of their past 20 versus the Angels, winning two of three in Anaheim from May 2-4.