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

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

Reds' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 19, 2012
CHICAGO -- The Reds edged a little closer to a National League Central title with Tuesday's 3-1 win over the Cubs. All three runs came on Ryan Hanigan's clutch bases-loaded double in the sixth.

"It was a big victory for us. It's back to 30 over [.500] and one step closer," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of his 89-59 club.

Cincinnati's magic number to clinch the division was lowered to four as the second-place Cardinals won their game vs. the Astros. The Reds also moved to within one game of the Nationals (89-57) for baseball's best record and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Washington's game vs. the Dodgers was rained out on Tuesday, and the two teams will play a single-admission doubleheader on Wednesday.

The Reds' magic number to clinch at least a Wild Card berth is at three. For a chance to claim the NL Central in Chicago, the Cardinals would need to lose their next two games against the Astros, while the Reds must sweep the Cubs.

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

Dodgers (Harang, 9-9) at Nationals (Zimmermann, 10-8), Game 1, 4:05 p.m. Preview >

Dodgers (Beckett, 6-13) at Nationals (Lannan, 3-0), Game 2, immediately after Game 1. 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

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.