Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 19, 2012

Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 19, 2012

Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 19, 2012
MIAMI -- An extra-inning heartbreaker against the Marlins on Tuesday night cost the Braves another chance to gain ground in the National League East race and took a game off their lead for the top NL Wild Card spot.

The Braves rallied from a three-run deficit to tie the game in the ninth inning, only to fall to the Marlins, 4-3, in the 10th courtesy of Jose Reyes' game-winning single. The loss dropped the Braves to 5 1/2 games back of the Nats in the division after Washington's game with the Dodgers was postponed due to rain. The Braves are trying to catch the Nats in order to avoid the one-game playoff between the two NL Wild Card teams.

"All you can ask everybody is to play hard," catcher Brian McCann said. "That's what we did [Tuesday] and it didn't go our way. So be it, we show up tomorrow. If people were dogging it, that's one thing, but people were playing as hard as they can. At the end of the day, that's all you can do."

After the Cardinals beat the Astros, 4-1, in St. Louis, the Braves saw their lead in the Wild Card race drop to 6 1/2 games with 13 games remaining for Atlanta and 14 left for the Cardinals.

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

Dodgers (Harang, 9-9) at Nationals (Zimmermann, 10-8), 4:05 p.m. (Game 1) Preview >
Dodgers (Beckett, 6-13) at Nationals (Lannan, 3-0), Game 2 Preview >
Braves (Medlen, 8-1) at Marlins (Johnson, 8-12), 7:10 p.m. Preview >
Astros (Harrell, 10-9) at Cardinals (Lynn, 15-7), 8:15 p.m. Preview >

If the postseason started today ...

This is how the teams would match up: 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 the 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 the 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

Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.