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Path to the Postseason: Sept. 22, 2012
Some late-inning magic on Friday had major effects on the playoff picture.

The day began with the Cardinals losing a heartbreaker to the Cubs in 11 innings. St. Louis pitchers surrendered two runs in the ninth inning and one run in the 11th to take a 5-4 loss, which in the process allowed a few teams to get closer to that coveted second National League Wild Card spot.

The Brewers were one of those teams. After a 4-2 win over the Nationals, thanks to a three-run ninth inning, Milwaukee inched just 1 1/2 games back of the Cards for that second spot.

A night after erasing a three-run eighth-inning deficit to sweep the Pirates, the Brewers got their 44th comeback victory of the season and their 24th win in their last 30 games.

"The last two days, coming back the way we have, it's been fantastic," said closer John Axford, who sealed it with a near perfect ninth inning. "Keeping the game as close as we did today with some great pitching, great defense and then obviously the timely hitting at the very end, is what brought it all together. It was perfect."

The Dodgers also made up some ground, going 10 innings with the Reds, before Matt Kemp hit a bases loaded two-run single for a 3-1 win. The victory moved Los Angeles just two games back of the Cards for the final Wild Card spot and prevented the Reds from clinching the NL Central. However, their magic number still sits at just one.

The Yankees also got in on the extra-inning party, going 10 frames against the A's in the Bronx. Russell Martin belted a solo home run in extras to hand the Yankees a 2-1 win and keep them one game ahead of the Orioles in the American League East.

"There's pressure, but it's fun; it's a fun atmosphere," Martin said. "There's a lot of energy in the crowd, you can feel the weather change a little bit. Playoff weather is coming. I like it. I enjoy it. I'm ready for it."

With the A's taking a loss and the Orioles picking up a 4-2 win over the Red Sox behind a three-RBI performance from catcher Matt Wieters and a solid start from Miguel Gonzalez, the two teams flip flopped Wild Card spots. The A's now trail the O's by one game for the top AL Wild Card spot.

Yet, the Angels continue to be right in the heat of the race, picking up a 6-2 win over the White Sox in Anaheim to stay just 3 1/2 games back of the A's for that second AL Wild Card spot.

The loss by the White Sox closed the gap between themselves and the Tigers, who now sit just 1 1/2 games back in the AL Central. The Tigers remained idle because of a rainout in Detroit.

Also out West, the Giants got a 5-1 win over the Rockies, picking up their fifth straight win and dropping their magic number to clinch the NL West to just two.

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

Brewers (Peralta, 2-0) at Nationals (Gonzalez, 19-8), 1:05 p.m. Preview >
The Brewers are riding a six-game winning streak as they make a push for the postseason against the Nats and Gio Gonzalez, who will go for his 20th win of the season.

A's (Blackley, 5-3) at Yankees (Nova, 12-7), 1:05 p.m. Preview >
The playoff atmosphere will be alive and well at Yankee Stadium as New York goes for its seventh straight win and the A's try and hold onto their AL Wild Card spot.

Cardinals (Wainwright, 13-13) at Cubs (Wood, 6-12), 1:05 p.m. Preview >
The Cardinals will turn to Adam Wainwright for a much needed victory after a 5-4 loss to the Cubs on Friday.

Orioles (Wolf, 5-10) at Red Sox (Cook, 4-10), 1:10 p.m. Preview >
The Orioles continue to cruise, having won five in a row. Randy Wolf takes the hill for the O's at Fenway Park.

Braves (Minor, 9-10) at Phillies (Halladay, 10-7), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
Back in the thick of things for that second NL Wild Card spot, the Phillies will send Roy Halladay to the hill. The Braves magic number to clinch a playoff spot is five.

Dodgers (Fife, 0-1) at Reds (Latos, 12-4), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
With their magic number at one, the Reds will look to clinch the NL Central with a win or a Cardinals loss.

Twins (Deduno, 6-4) at Tigers (Fister, 9-9), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
After a rainout on Friday, the Tigers hand the ball to Doug Fister. They currently sit 1 1/2 games back in the AL Central.

Pirates (Correia, 11-9) at Astros (Keuchel, 2-7), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Holding onto the slim hope that they can make the playoffs, the Pirates currently sit 5 1/2 games back of the second NL Wild Card spot.

Blue Jays (Morrow, 8-6) at Rays (Moore, 10-11), 7:10 p.m. Preview >
The Rays have outscored their opponents 32-8 over their last three contests and currently trail the A's by 4 1/2 games for the second AL Wild Card spot.

D-backs (Corbin, 6-7) at Rockies (Francis, 5-6), 8:10 p.m. Preview >
Arizona is back at the .500 mark, but still finds itself 4 1/2 games back of the second NL Wild Card spot.

White Sox (Quintana, 6-4) at Angels (Haren, 11-11), 9:05 p.m. Preview >
The Angels will try to make up more ground in the AL Wild Card, as the White Sox try and hold off the Tigers in the Central.

Padres (Werner, 2-1) at Giants (Bumgarner, 15-10), 9:05 p.m. Preview >
The Giants magic number to claim the NL West is at two games after a 5-1 win over San Diego on Friday.

Rangers (Harrison, 17-9) at Mariners (Beavan, 9-10), 9:10 p.m. Preview >
Even after a 6-3 loss to the Mariners on Friday, the Rangers still hold a four game lead over the A's in the AL West.

If the postseason started today ...

Wild Card: A's at Orioles
Division Series: Yankees vs. White Sox | Rangers vs. Wild Card winner

Wild Card: Cardinals at Braves
Division Series: Reds vs. Giants | Nationals vs. Wild Card winner

• For the 2012 postseason, the team with the better record will play the first two games on the road to start the Division Series.

Postseason Bracket »

Postseason 101

Magic numbers
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Thensubtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.

Tiebreaker scenarios
A tiebreaker games will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured ofparticipating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-headrecord between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, thendivision 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 division record will be thenext 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

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for