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Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 23, 2012

Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 23, 2012

Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 23, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -- One year after enduring an epic late-season collapse, the Braves are attempting to clinch a playoff berth with some time to spare.

With Saturday's 8-2 win over the Phillies, the Braves' magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to three. They are sitting at the top of the National League Wild Card standings, six games in front of the second-place Cardinals and 8 1/2 games in front of the third-place Brewers.

The Braves are still holding out hope to win the National League East and avoiding the one-game playoff that will be played between the two Wild Card entrants. But they are 5 1/2 games behind the Nationals with just 10 games left to play.

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"We've just got to keep winning," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "Once that magic number is zero, we can just take a deep breath and relax a little bit. St. Louis is playing well now, and so is Milwaukee. We've just got to keep playing our own game and keep winning ballgames to make it tough on them."

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

Braves (Hudson, 15-6) at Phillies (Lee, 6-7), 1:35 p.m. Preview >

Brewers (Gallardo, 16-8) at Nationals (Wang, 2-3), 1:35 p.m. Preview >

Cardinals (Lohse, 15-3) at Cubs (Germano, 2-8), 2:20 p.m. Preview >

Dodgers (Harang, 9-10) at Reds (Bailey, 12-9), 8:05 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

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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