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06/03/12 3:07 AM ET

Nathan thrilled for former teammate Santana

ANAHEIM -- Count Rangers closer Joe Nathan as among those who were thrilled to see Mets pitcher Johan Santana throw his no-hitter. The two were teammates with the Twins from 2004-07.

Both have also had their struggles in the past couple of years. Nathan missed all of 2010 because of Tommy John surgery and Santana was sidelined in 2011 with shoulder troubles. Santana won two Cy Young Awards in 2004 and 2006 with Nathan backing him up as an All-Star closer.

"It was good to see because he's had a long road back," Nathan said. "He's really had to battle to get back to where he was. He's not there yet and may never get there, but we all know he knows how to pitch. Last night, he proved you don't have to have a 95 mile per hour fastball to have that changeup working. He's always had that and he had it working last night."

Santana's no-hitter on Friday against the Cardinals was the first of his career and the first in Mets history.

"I was fortunate to be there for his prime years," Nathan said. "It was fun to watch him throw. He made batters look like they were in the box for the first time. He had as good of stuff as anybody. There were teams that thought he was tipping his pitches, but he was so good, it didn't matter."

Washington prefers bullpen setup to extra hitter

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Snyder struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Friday's 4-2 loss to the Angels. That left Rangers pinch-hitters 5-for-38 on the season with a .128 batting average, third-lowest in the league.

Snyder, who is still a rookie, is 2-for-6 with one home run as a pinch-hitter. But manager Ron Washington said the best pinch-hitters are veterans who understand how to handle the role and not playing every day.

The Rangers are still exploring the possibility of adding a right-handed bat off the bench.

"It's a very tough role for Brandon," Washington said. "He has a good attitude and works hard and has improved since Spring Training. But it's a tough role because it might be a while before you see the field.

"A veteran is the best-case scenario because he has been through everything ... an everyday player whose role has been reduced but his knowledge and ability hasn't been reduced. You'd like to have a veteran, but everybody is looking for the same thing. There are not that many out there."

The Rangers do have Ryan Spilborghs at Triple-A Round Rock and he went into Saturday's game hitting .384 with four home runs and 20 RBIs in 26 games. He has a .466 on-base percentage and a .596 slugging percentage.

He has also played in 619 Major League games with the Rockies from 2005-11 with a career batting average of .272 along with a .345 on-base percentage and a .423 slugging percentage.

"He's doing very well, but we haven't discussed any moves yet," Washington said.

Part of the Rangers' problem is they use a seven-man bullpen and that leaves them with just four players off the bench. Washington is more adamant about keeping seven relievers than he is strengthening the bench.

"Our bullpen has been a little beat up," Washington said. "I'll stick with what I've got and keep the excess pitching."

Unearned runs piling up for Rangers

ANAHEIM -- The Rangers allowed two unearned runs against the Angels on Friday night. It was the third straight game the Rangers have allowed multiple unearned runs and they now lead the American League with 30 on the season.

"It happens," Washington said before his defense committed three errors and allowed one unearned run in Saturday's 3-2 loss. "I don't think anybody looks at our team and says we can't play defense. We'll get back to catching the ball and protecting our pitchers. We'll get it together. It would be different if I was talking about guys who have a poor record of playing defense. These guys don't."

The Rangers allowed just three unearned runs in April. They allowed 70 last season, fifth most in the American League, and just 51 in 2010. They experienced a dramatic drop in 2008-09. The Rangers tied a club record by allowing 107 unearned runs in 2008 and then set a club record in 2009 by allowing just 42. That's the fewest in one full season.

"If you make mistakes on defense, you expect the pitching staff to pick you up," Washington said. "If the pitching staff makes a mistake, you expect the offense to pick you up. It's a combination of things. It hasn't happened like we want it to happen. It's a long haul. Once again, I'll lay my hat on those guys that they can catch the ball."

Worth noting

• The Rangers did not hit a home run on Friday or Saturday night and are 2-8 in games where that has happened.

• The Angels did not hit a home run on Friday either. It's only the second time in 11 starts that Colby Lewis has not allowed a home run.

• Mike Napoli did not hit a home run on Friday night, but he still has one for every 15.02 at-bats in Angel Stadium. That's the best ratio ever for a player with at least 750 at-bats here.

• Josh Hamilton was the Rangers' Player of the Month for May after hitting .344 with 12 home runs and 32 RBI. He was also the Player of the Month for April.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.