SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco

Giants find themselves weighing star catcher Buster Posey’s long-term health against their own short-term playoff fortunes as they prepare for Saturday’s afternoon clash with the Texas Rangers.Texas’ improbable 7-6 Yasmany Tomas Jersey , 10-inning win in the series opener on Friday night, coupled with Milwaukee’s extra-inning victory over Pittsburgh, pushed the Brewers (72-58) nine games ahead of the Giants (63-67) in the battle for the second wild-card spot in the National League with just 32 games remaining.Making the Giants’ task all the more daunting is that they stand in just eighth place in the wild-card race, needing to pass six teams to earn one of the two spots.Article continues below ...San Francisco had hoped to make a run on a nine-game homestand that began Friday and featured six games against the Rangers and New York Mets.But the club left the ballpark a deflated bunch after second baseman Joe Panik’s two-out error in the ninth inning kept the Rangers alive, and Rougned Odor smacked Will Smith’s next pitch into the San Francisco Bay for a game-tying home run that forced extra innings.To add insult to injury, the Rangers wound up winning the game on a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk by Sam Dyson to Robinson Chirinos.Battling a painful right hip that will require surgery at some point, Posey caught the entire 10 innings and contributed a run, a hit and an RBI to the losing cause.His appearance was a bit of a surprise in that Giants general manager Brian Sabean had told the club’s flagship radio station http://www.diamondbacksfanproshop.com/authentic-shelby-miller-jersey , KNBR-680 in San Francisco, on Thursday that the hip surgery was “imminent” and that he was working with Posey and his representatives on scheduling it.Now that the Giants one game farther back in the wild-card chase and facing an afternoon affair after an extra-inning night game, there’s a good chance Posey won’t be in the Giants’ starting lineup Saturday.Whether that’s to give the six-time All-Star a short break or perhaps because he’s left the team to start the clock on the recovery from the inevitable surgery remains to be seen.Sabean stated that the recovery period is expected to be about six months.If Posey doesn’t start Saturday, Nick Hundley will be behind the plate to catch left-hander Andrew Suarez (4-9, 4.68 ERA), who appears to have hit the proverbial “rookie wall.”Suarez has allowed three or more runs in six of his last seven starts, after not having done so in any of his previous six outings.The 25-year-old has never faced the Rangers.Texas is expected to counter with lefty Martin Perez (2-5, 6.93), who likewise has struggled of late Chris Owings Jersey , allowing 13 runs and 20 hits in 11 innings over his last two starts.Perez has faced the Giants just once in his career, and it was a doozy. He limited San Francisco to two hits and one run in 8 1/3 innings in a 2-1 home win when the interleague rivals last met in 2015.Also homering for the Rangers in the series opener was Joey Gallo, his 34th of the season. That’s more than twice as many as the Giants’ leader, Andrew McCutchen, who led off the first inning with a home run for the 10th time in his career to help San Francisco run off to a 6-0 lead. The homer was McCutchen’s 15th of the season. The competition level will drop considerably for the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates when they open a three-game series Monday with a holiday matinee at PNC Park.In addition, the stakes will remain fairly pedestrian between the two National League Central also-rans.Cincinnati (59-78) will be playing the final three games of 16 in a row within the division. The Reds are 4-9 so far in that stretch but got a boost from winning two of three against St. Louis over the weekend, including a 6-4, 10-inning win Sunday.Article continues below ...“This series we played better, and we got a W Archie Bradley Jersey , we got a series (win),” Eugenio Suarez told Fox Sports Ohio after he hit a winning two-run homer, giving him 100 RBIs.Even with a sweep of this series, the last-place Reds would be hard-pressed to catch the fourth-place Pirates in the division but can continue to build for the future.“We’re trying to turn the page from a terrible August and see if we can play better baseball in September and take that into the offseason and into spring training — just get back to winning baseball,” Cincinnati manager Jim Riggleman said.“We want to win games. We don’t care who the opposition is or whether it’s against any of these three (previous) teams competing for playoff spots. We’re not out there trying to spoil their hopes; we just want to win games for ourselves.”There won’t be much the Reds could spoil for the Pirates anyway.Their carrot would seem to be finishing above .500.Pittsburgh (66-71) was 3-6 on a road trip against Milwaukee, St. Louis and Atlanta, and was 2-5 on a preceding homestand against Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs, making it five straight series against clubs holding a playoff spot.The Pirates are coming off a 5-1 loss Sunday to the Braves.In the series opener, Cincinnati right-hander Matt Harvey (6-7 Curt Schilling Jersey , 4.97 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh righty Trevor Williams (11-9, 3.30 ERA).Williams seemingly is vying for the title of Pirates ace, particularly with his performance since the All-Star break, going 4-2 with a 0.84 ERA in seven starts. Over his past eight starts, he has allowed four runs.Wednesday, Williams pitched six scoreless innings and struck out a career-high eight in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 win at St. Louis.Before his strong stretch, over nine starts he had a 7.02 ERA and competed six innings three times.“It’s fight or flight, really. I didn’t want that to define me this year,” said Williams Luis Gonzalez Jersey , who leads Pittsburgh’s starters in ERA and with a 1.19 WHIP. “It was really taking that second half and making the most out of it, where I give our team the best chance to win every five days and execute my pitches and keep the guys in the ballgame.”Against Cincinnati, Williams is 2-1 with a 4.73 ERA in seven career appearances, four of them starts.Harvey is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his past four starts.Wednesday against Milwaukee, he did not get a decision in a 13-12 extra-inning loss. Harvey struck out six and walked none in four innings but gave up five runs and 11 hits.In eight career starts against Pittsburgh, he is 2-6 with a 6.12 ERA.

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