CARSON, Calif. (AP) -- David Beckham and Edson Buddle scored in the first half to give the Los Angeles Galaxy a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA on Sunday night.
The Galaxy (16-6-5) used their third victory in four games to move back into first place in Major League Soccer's Western Conference by two points over Real Salt Lake.
"It's a great win for our team," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "In the second half, Chivas did a good job of getting direct in their attack. We had to hang in there and play hard."
Alan Gordon scored for Chivas USA (7-15-4), which has lost three consecutive games and four of five.
"We came out with a lot of energy," Chivas USA coach Martin Vasquez said. "But when you give them space or allow them to get behind the line of defense, you're going to be punished."
The Galaxy held a 1-0 lead when Beckham scored his first goal of the season in the 39th minute on a 26-yard free kick into the upper-right corner of the net. Beckham's goal was his first since Sept. 9, 2009, against Toronto.
"I knew as soon as I hit it, it was in," Beckham said. "Even though they've got a very good 'keeper, I think he expected me to put the ball over the other side, so he was cheating to the right."
Arena was pleased with Beckham's goal.
"Where Beckham hit that spot to the goalkeeper's left is the spot to put that ball," Arena said. "The goalkeeper was definitely not able to see the ball there. We said on the bench, 'If he beats the goalkeeper to the left, it's going to be a goal.'"
Beckham was making his second start and fourth appearance of the season after missing six months because of a torn left Achilles tendon. Eddie Lewis replaced Beckham in the 64th minute.
"My fitness is good and my confidence is good," Beckham said. "We've got another game on Thursday, which is one of the reasons I came off."
Buddle put the Galaxy ahead in the 24th minute with his league-leading 15th goal. Buddle volleyed Michael Stephens' long midfield pass inside the left post from 16 yards.
The goal made Buddle the first player in MLS history to score 40 goals for two different teams. Buddle scored 42 for Columbus from 2002 through 2006.
Buddle also tied Roy Lassiter for seventh place in career scoring with 88 goals.
Gordon scored on an 11-yard header that goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts bobbled with both hands before deflecting the ball into the net in the 63rd minute.
The Galaxy played with 10 men after Lewis received a red card in the 77th minute.