The bottom half

The week ahead

Dodgers: The New York Mets executed one of the ugliest collapses in baseball history last September, coughing up a seven-game lead with 17 games to play. The Dodgers did not distinguish themselves either, losing 11 of their last 14 games to fall from 3 1/2 games out of first place to eight. The Mets and Dodgers have the highest payrolls in the National League, the Mets at $138 million and the Dodgers at $119 million, and another underachieving summer could leave the general managers -- Omar Minaya for the Mets, Ned Colletti for the Dodgers -- looking for work.

Dodgers vs. New York Mets, Monday through Wednesday at Dodger Stadium

Angels: Troy Percival has 330 career saves, 316 for the Angels and one against the Angels. Percival, the man on the mound when the Angels secured their 2002 World Series championship, earned his lone save against his longtime club on May 7, 2005, by retiring Chone Figgins, Garret Anderson and Steve Finley for the Detroit Tigers. Three years later -- after sitting out almost two years because of injury, retiring in an Angels uniform and then returning as a setup man for the St. Louis Cardinals -- Percival could face the Angels in the ninth inning again, as the closer for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays, Friday through next Sunday at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Elsewhere: The NL Central so far appears to be a three-team race among the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals. The latter two teams meet in Milwaukee next weekend, amid an arms crisis on both sides. The Brewers just lost phenom Yovani Gallardo to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and the Cardinals have almost an entire starting rotation -- Chris Carpenter, Matt Clement, Mark Mulder and Brad Thompson -- on the disabled list. The Cardinals are trying to rebound from their first losing season since 1999, the Brewers trying to improve upon their first winning season since 1992.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers, Friday through next Sunday at Miller Park, Milwaukee.

Minor leaguers of the week

Angels: Trevor Bell, RHP

After 46 professional starts without a complete game, Bell made his first one a shutout, a 4-0 victory for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga at Lancaster on Thursday. The Angels made Bell, 21, their top draft choice in 2005, signing him out of Crescenta Valley High for $925,000. He hasn't dazzled yet, with a career minor league record of 14-8 and a 3.99 ERA. His complete game was seven innings, in a doubleheader necessitated by a "wind-out" the previous night, when gusts at Lancaster topped 50 mph.

Dodgers: Josh Bell, 3b

The Dodgers selected Luke Hochevar in the first round of the 2005 draft; he's the one that got away after he switched agents and -- according to the Dodgers -- reneged on an oral agreement with the team. They selected Bell in the fourth round, and he's working to realize his power potential and cut down on his strikeouts. Bell, 21, hit .308 for Class-A Inland Empire in a 10-game stretch through Thursday, with six extra-base hits and 12 strikeouts in 39 at-bats. His career minor league numbers: .289 over 980 at-bats, with 34 home runs and 263 strikeouts.

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