Nationals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 22, 2012

Nationals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 22, 2012

Nationals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 22, 2012
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals gave up three runs in the ninth Friday night and dropped a 4-2 decision to the surging Brewers in the first game of their series. But their magic number in the National League East fell to seven as the Braves also lost, falling to the Phillies.

"Well, that one hurt," Washington manager Davey Johnson said during his postgame press conference.

Gio Gonzalez will go for win No. 20 when the Nationals and Brewers meet in the second of the four-game series.

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

Brewers (Peralta, 2-0) at Nationals (Gonzalez, 19-8), 1:05 p.m. Preview >

Braves (Minor, 9-10) at Phillies (Halladay, 10-7), 4:05 p.m. Preview >

Dodgers (Fife, 0-1) at Reds (Latos, 12-4), 4:05 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

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.