Pirates' Path to the Posteason: Sept. 15, 2012

Pirates' Path to the Posteason: Sept. 15, 2012

Pirates' Path to the Posteason: Sept. 15, 2012
CHICAGO -- The Pirates continued their downward spiral with a 7-4 loss to the Cubs on Friday afternoon, but once again, they didn't lose any ground in the race for the National League's second Wild Card spot.

The two teams the Pirates are chasing, the Cardinals and Dodgers, squared off in Chavez Ravine, with Los Angeles earning the victory.

The Bucs remained three games back of the Cardinals, while the Dodgers climbed within a game of the Redbirds.

The two teams directly behind the Pirates also split, with the Brewers falling to the Mets and the Phillies beating Houston. The Phillies also are three games back of the Cardinals while the Brewers are 4 1/2.

Today's key games to watch (all times ET)

Pirates (Rodriguez, 3-4) at Cubs (Berken, 0-0), 1:05 p.m. Preview >

Phillies (Kendrick, 9-10) at Astros (Keuchel, 1-7), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Reds (Cueto, 17-8) at Marlins (Buehrle, 12-12), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Mets (Mejia, 0-0) at Brewers (Marcum, 5-4), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Cardinals (Garcia, 4-7) at Dodgers (Blanton, 1-4), 9:10 p.m. Preview >

If the postseason started today ...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Wild Card: Second Wild Card at First Wild Card
Division Series: Second-best AL record vs. Third-best AL record | Best AL record at Wild Card winner

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Wild Card: Second Wild Card at First Wild Card
Division Series: Second-best NL record vs. Third-best NL record | Best NL record at Wild Card winner

Postseason Bracket »

Postseason 101

Magic numbers
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.

Tiebreaker scenarios
A tiebreaker game will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured of participating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-head record between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.

If two clubs are tied for the two Wild Card berths, home-field advantage will be determined by the head-to-head record between the clubs. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.

Tiebreaker rules »

2012 postseason schedule
Wild Card playoff games: Oct. 5
Division Series: Oct. 6-12
AL Championship Series: Oct. 13-21
NL Championship Series: Oct. 14-22
World Series: Oct. 24-Nov. 1

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.