Giants try to keep playoff hopes up in series with Mets

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants lost another player and the New York Mets took a step toward getting one back as the clubs prepared for a three-game series that begins Friday night with one still clinging to a sliver of playoff hope.

The Giants (67-68) began Thursday — an off day for both teams — seven games back in the National League West and 7 1/2 behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild-card spot, then fell another half-game back of the Brewers (75-60) after Milwaukee beat the Cincinnati Reds in an afternoon affair.

Meanwhile, the Giants learned they’d also lost center fielder Steven Duggar, their hottest hitter of late, for the rest of the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

“The timing is awful,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Duggar, who provided difference-making hits in wins over Texas on Sunday and Arizona on Monday. “He was really in a good place.”

The three games against the Mets, the fourth-place team in the NL East, provide a short break from a heavyweight-laden September schedule in which the Giants will go up against teams ahead of them in the standings — Colorado, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Colorado again — for 12 straight games starting Monday.

The Mets have done a good job playing spoiler while encountering a rough patch of their own schedule. They split four games against the Giants last week in New York as part of an 8-7 run against Philadelphia (3-2), San Francisco (2-2), Washington (2-1) and the Chicago Cubs (1-2).

In the meantime, the Mets have been trying to get their own house in order, sending former All-Star third baseman David Wright to the minors in his bid to play this season despite recent neck, back and shoulder surgeries.

Wright, who went 1-for-9 in two games for Triple-A Las Vegas this week, has rejoined the parent club in San Francisco, but solely to continue rehab for the time being.

“We just haven’t seen that level of consistency of playing on a quantity or quality at this point,” Mets interim general manager John Ricco said this week, indicating that reinstating Wright to the major-league roster — even as they expand Saturday — was no sure thing.

“Quite frankly as this point,” Ricco continued, “he hasn’t been able to make some of the benchmarks that were laid out for him (as he began his rehab stint).”

Wright hasn’t played in a major-league game since May 2016.

Zack Wheeler (9-6, 3.46 ERA), dealt from the Giants to the Mets for Carlos Beltran in 2011, will make his third career start in San Francisco since the trade. He’s 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA in the first two.

The former No. 6 overall pick of the 2009 draft by the Giants has lived up to the early projections since the All-Star break, a stretch during which he has the second-best ERA in the NL (1.17) in seven starts.

He’s 2-1 with a 3.45 ERA in five lifetime starts against the Giants.

Rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez (5-9, 4.42), coming off seven shutout innings in a 5-3 win over Texas last Saturday, is scheduled to open the series for the Giants. He has never faced the Mets.