Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 30, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 30, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 30, 2012
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals rallied to push Saturday's game to extra innings, but an inability to ride that to a victory opened the door for the Dodgers to climb closer in the National League Wild Card race.

St. Louis' 6-4 loss to the Nationals, coupled with Los Angeles' fourth consecutive win, shaved a game off the Dodgers' deficit. Los Angeles now trails the Cardinals by two games. Both clubs have four games remaining on their regular-season schedules.

"We just couldn't close it out in extra innings," Allen Craig said of Saturday's defeat. "It was a tough game. We battled hard. We just have to get them tomorrow."

If the Dodgers should catch the Cardinals and the two teams finish in a tie for the second Wild Card, a one-game playoff would be on the docket for Thursday. That game would be played in Los Angeles, because the Dodgers won the head-to-head series against the Cardinals this year.

The Cardinals' loss also keeps the Brewers in the Wild Card hunt for another day. Milwaukee trails St. Louis by four games in that race.

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

Reds (Cueto, 19-9) at Pirates (Rodriguez, 12-13), 1:35 Preview >

Mets (Mejia, 1-1) at Braves (Medlen, 9-1), 1:35 p.m. Preview >

Astros (Lyles, 4-12) at Brewers (Fiers, 9-9), 2:10 p.m. Preview >

Nationals (Detwiler, 10-7) at Cardinals (Lynn, 17-7), 2:15 p.m. Preview >

Giants (Lincecum, 10-15) at Padres (Volquez, 11-11), 4:05 p.m. Preview >

Rockies (De La Rosa, 0-1) at Dodgers (Beckett, 6-14), 4:10 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

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.