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Notes: Angels trade defense for offense

Notes: Trading defense for offense

ANAHEIM -- Desperate times call for desperate measures and the Angels took a step Sunday that, while not exactly groundbreaking, was one that hadn't been taken in a year.

Garret Anderson got his first start in center field since the 2004 postseason, sending Steve Finley to the bench. In related moves, Juan Rivera started in left field for Anderson and batted eighth, with Casey Kotchman starting as the designated hitter and batting seventh.

Manager Mike Scioscia admitted there might be a slight drop-off defensively. But down three games to one in the American League Championship Series against the White Sox and facing elimination with a team that hit .177 in the first four games, he felt compelled to counter with more offense.

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"As much stock as we put in the continuity of the defense with this club, especially with Paul Byrd starting Sunday, we have to weigh every angle," Scioscia said. "Garret is running well, he is healthy and he's a good center fielder. Juan gives us better balance offensively. We can adjust if we need to."

Anderson, who is 2-for-15 with a home run in four games, played 94 games in center last season and has logged 403 games there over his 12 seasons. Finley played most of 2005 as the starting center fielder, but platooned with Chone Figgins over much of the second half and started against right-handers.

The White Sox started right-hander Jose Contreras on Sunday, but Finley was benched nonetheless.

"I don't make lineups. I'm not happy," said Finley, who is 2-for-9 in the series. "I'm not playing, but hopefully I can do something in the game to help the team win."

Finley was supportive of his teammate and said the change shouldn't be a problem for Anderson.

"Playing center is easier than going to a corner spot because you can see the ball better in center," Finley said. "Garret will be fine out there. He is a good athlete."

The bigger issue for the Angels, though, is an offense that had only one player with more than one RBI in the series. Orlando Cabrera had three entering Game 5.

"The top six in the lineup have to do their job," Scioscia said.

Uphill battle: However the ALCS turns out, it will be remembered for a number of calls. Up top will be the call by plate umpire Doug Eddings in Game 2. A.J. Pierzynski swung for strike three in the bottom of the ninth, but sprinted to first when he thought the ball may have been dropped. Catcher Josh Paul simply rolled for the ball back to the mound, thinking that was the third out.

But Eddings said he had merely called it a third strike and did not think Paul made a clean catch. One batter later, the White Sox won Game 2.

Then on Saturday, in the second inning of Game 4, Pierzynski could have been called for interference when Finley hit the catcher's glove during a swing. Instead Finley's ground ball ended the inning on a double play with runners on the corners.

Then in the fifth inning, Scot Shields appeared to pick off Scott Podsednik at first, but the White Sox leadoff hitter was called safe and he eventually scored.

The calls have played a role, but there have been bigger issues for the Angels.

"We haven't gotten many breaks in the series," Finley said. "I've always felt that in the postseason you have to get the breaks and you have to play well. We haven't played that well, but we haven't gotten any breaks."

Scioscia agreed.

"I'm sure [the umpires] are not out there trying to miss calls, but we haven't gotten many breaks," Scioscia said. "But we haven't done the things we need to in this series."

Contingencies: If the Angels win Sunday, Jarrod Washburn is penciled in as the starter for Game 6. The left-hander made his first start of the postseason in the second game of the ALCS against the White Sox and allowed an unearned run on four hits over 4 2/3 innings.

It was the first start since Oct. 1 for Washburn, whose outing at Yankee Stadium in the AL Division Series was scuttled when he came down with a case of strep throat.

Scioscia said Sunday's game could dictate using Washburn. If the Angels need an extra pitcher, Scioscia may opt to go with Washburn in relief and start right-hander John Lackey on short rest in a potential Game 6 while holding Ervin Santana for a possible Game 7, also on short rest.

Not rocket science: One player who has made his presence felt in the series is Paul Konerko, who had two home runs and six RBIs through four games. So what does the Angels' scouting report say?

"To be blunt, we have to stop hanging breaking balls to him," Scioscia said.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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