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Angels can rest easier with Game 1 ALCS win

CHICAGO (AP) -- Three time zones in three nights. No matter, the
Los Angeles Angels were plenty fresh thanks to Paul Byrd and his
bullpen.

Byrd pitched effectively in a pinch, Garret Anderson homered and
baseball's most frequent flyers edged the Chicago White Sox 3-2
Tuesday night in the opener of the AL championship series.

The Angels were supposed to be more than a little jet-lagged.
Sunday night, they were on the East Coast, playing the Yankees.
Monday night, they were back on the West Coast, beating New York.
Now, they're in the Midwest, with no off-day until Thursday.

"We've had a couple of redeye flights and guys haven't really
complained. I don't know if we're delirious or what," Byrd said.

Seeking their first World Series berth in 46 years and first
championship since 1917, the White Sox got another outstanding
outing from Jose Contreras but couldn't manage much offense.

The Cuban right-hander worked into the ninth inning but lost for
the first time since Aug. 15, ending his nine-start winning streak.

Chicago had won eight games in a row going back to the regular
season, but fell short against a travel-weary Los Angeles team.

"As I said before the game, I don't believe they would be
tired. As soon as you put a uniform on, you forget about pains,"
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It was to our advantage,
all the traveling stuff, but they showed us and they showed
everybody that that's not the truth."

Recovering from a throat infection and fever, Jarrod Washburn is
slated to pitch Game 2 of the best-of-seven series for the Angels
on Wednesday night against All-Star starter Mark Buehrle.

Scot Shields, who splashed water on his face in the bullpen to
stay awake in the early innings, retired slugger Paul Konerko with
two on to end the eighth. Francisco Rodriguez worked around third
baseman Chone Figgins' error to begin the ninth and struck out Joe
Crede to close it out.

The Angels won Game 1 for the first time in six postseason
series under manager Mike Scioscia.

"These last 48 hours have been a blur," Scioscia said. "We
were fortunate to hold on. … This is the way the series is going
to be."

The Angels will have plenty of time to rest. Right now, they're
too busy winning to worry about all that.

"We're all tired from the last three days but we put all that
behind," Rodriguez said. "How are you going to feel tired,
especially in the playoffs?"

The 34-year-old Byrd walked only 28 batters all season and his
throwback delivery, with arms rocking back behind him like a
right-handed Whitey Ford, belongs in a flickering old cut of
black-and-white film footage.

A 12-game winner during the regular season, Byrd got the Game 1
start because he was the only option left. The first-round series
took a toll on Los Angeles' pitching staff, and ace Bartolo Colon
was left off the ALCS roster because of a shoulder injury.

Working on only three days' rest after a short outing in Game 3
against the Yankees, Byrd slipped on the mound while throwing a
first-inning pitch to leadoff batter Scott Podsednik, then held
Chicago in check for six-plus innings to earn his first postseason
victory.

He departed after hitting Aaron Rowand with a pitch to begin the
seventh, but Shields got six outs to set up Rodriguez for his third
save of the postseason.

"I can't say enough about our bullpen coming in and picking me
up," said Byrd, who downplayed the short rest. "I'm a control
pitcher so I don't rely on great velocity anyway. It wasn't a big
deal for me. I was able to move the ball around a little bit and
got away with a few pitches."

The White Sox attempted all sorts of tricks -- No. 3 hitter
Jermaine Dye tried to bunt leading off the sixth but popped up to
Byrd. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski took off from first in the seventh on
what he thought was a hit-and-run, but was caught stealing.

"It's the way we played all year. We're aggressive," Konerko
said. "An aggressive mistake when you are playing to win, no one
has a problem with that. Against those guys at the end of the game
you've got to try to make things happen."

Fireworks boomed before the game and video boards just below the
upper deck flashed: "This is White Sox playoff country."

One sign in the stands read: "8 in a row. 8 to go. 88 yrs in
the making."

Playing before a revved-up crowd of 40,659, the well-rested
White Sox had been waiting at home since Saturday after sweeping
defending champion Boston in the first round. With their pitching
rotation lined up perfectly, they were supposed to have an edge
early in this series, but the AL Central champs were the ones who
looked weary in the early going.

Similar styles carried the Angels and White Sox this far: Both
rely on solid starting pitching and a deep bullpen, and they like
to manufacture runs with bunts and smart baserunning.

That doesn't mean they can't play long ball, though.

Anderson led off the second inning with his third homer of the
postseason -- he had a team-best seven RBIs in the first round.

Then the Angels went to what they do best. Adam Kennedy's
hit-and-run single was followed by Figgins' sacrifice bunt, putting
runners at second and third in the third.

Orlando Cabrera's slow bouncer scored Steve Finley, and third
baseman Crede hesitated before throwing to first, allowing Cabrera
to reach on an infield single.

"This game, with its twists and turns, could have gone either
way for the whole nine innings," Scioscia said. "It could have
turned on a dime."

Vladimir Guerrero bounced back to the mound, and Contreras tried
for a double play instead of going home to get Kennedy. Cabrera's
high slide bothered second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, who overthrew
first base, and Los Angeles had a 3-0 lead on Guerrero's first RBI
of the playoffs.

"If the ball had been hit a bit slower and I didn't think I had
a chance to turn a double play, I would have probably gone home,"
Contreras said through a translator. "But we've turned double
plays all season long and can't change anything you've done this
season. If we turned that double play we might be talking about
something different."

Crede homered in the bottom half, and Pierzynski concluded a
feisty at-bat with a two-out RBI single in the fourth, cutting it
to 3-2.

Game notes
The White Sox are 0-6 in ALCS games at home. ... Guillen
got the loudest cheer during pregame introductions and waved his
cap to the crowd. ... Billy Pierce, a pitcher on the 1959 "Go-Go
Sox" team that lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World
Series, threw out the first pitch to a warm ovation. ... The Angels
also won the last four meetings of the regular season, including a
three-game sweep in Chicago from Sept. 9-11.