NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets’ season will end the way it started – without Carlos Beltran. It will likely also finish with another losing record.

The Mets try to salvage a split of their four-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field on Thursday night.

New York (77-81) didn’t have Beltran available until after the All-Star break due to right knee surgery. After an MRI showed mild inflammation in the same knee, the center fielder was ruled out for the remainder of the season Wednesday.

Beltran, who batted .255 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 64 games, felt positive about the news. Next season will be the last of his $119 million, seven-year contract.

“I’m happy actually the MRI shows the knee’s better,” he said. “I’m happy for that part. The part that I’m not happy about is just that I wanted to finish the season playing but by the recommendation by the doctor they don’t want me to play.”

The Mets will have to overcome the absence of the five-time All-Star and sweep their final four games to avoid their first consecutive losing seasons since a three-year run from 2002-04. They conclude the season by hosting last-place Washington for three games this weekend.

New York got swept by Milwaukee (75-83) in a doubleheader Wednesday, falling 8-7 in the opener and 3-1 in the nightcap.

Rookie Dillon Gee (2-1, 2.00 ERA) will take the mound against the Brewers for the first time in an attempt to prove he’s worthy of a spot in the 2011 rotation.

The 24-year-old right-hander was impressive again Saturday, turning in a fourth consecutive quality start by allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 5-2 win at Philadelphia.

“I like the fact that he can pitch in,” manager Jerry Manuel told the Mets’ official website. “He can pitch in off the plate, which is a tremendous weapon for a guy to be able to do that. He’s got that pitchability.”

New York may need Gee to go deep in this contest after using 12 pitchers during Wednesday’s doubleheader, with three making an appearance in both games.

Milwaukee will counter with Chris Narveson (11-9, 5.14), who will need more help from the Brewers’ lineup to win for the first time in four starts.

The left-hander is 0-2 with a 4.67 ERA in his last three outings, getting just one run of support in that span. He had been 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his previous seven starts.

Narveson gave a solid effort Saturday, allowing two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-0 loss to Florida.

“I think he’s kind of learned what type of pitcher he has to be, what works best for him,” manager Ken Macha told the Brewers’ official website. “He does the fastball-changeup thing and mixes in a couple curves.”

Narveson has never faced the Mets.

The Brewers have won six of eight.

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