Los Angeles Angels' Chone Figgins steals second base safely over a diving Chicago White Sox second baseman Tadahto Iguchi of Japan in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2005.
AP Photo/Morry Gash
CHICAGO 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.''
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.
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