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Path to the Postseason: Sept. 24, 2012

At this point in the Wild Card races, the teams on the outside looking in have gone into full-out survival mode.

And that's exactly what the Brewers, Dodgers and Angels all did on Sunday -- survive.

On a day when St. Louis and Oakland both won, the Brewers, Dodgers and Angels kept pace with crucial victories of their own.

The A's, who knocked off the Yankees, 5-4, in the Bronx to avoid what could have been a devastating sweep, lead the Angels by 2 1/2 games for the second Wild Card in the American League.

"It was a big game," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of his club's win. "Each and every game will be big, but probably at this point in time of the year, that was our biggest win."

But the Angels responded to Oakland's early victory with an impressive performance of their own later in the afternoon. Jered Weaver tossed 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball to earn a career-high 19th win, as the Angels beat the White Sox, 4-1.

"Obviously there's a little bit of scoreboard watching as we dwindle down here, and [it's disappointing] that we don't get to play Oakland here at the end," Weaver said. "That'd be pretty exciting. But we have to do what we have to do, and that's win ballgames. We can't worry about what other teams are doing. We just have to go out there and keep winning. This is a good start."

Even though the White Sox lost, they still managed to extend their lead in the AL Central. That's because the Tigers dropped both games of their Sunday doubleheader against the Twins, including a 10-inning defeat in the nightcap as Minnesota's Jamey Carroll drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single.

In the National League, St. Louis knocked off the Cubs, 6-3, to win the series against its arch-rivals. But the Cards didn't gain any ground as the Brewers (2 1/2 games back) beat Washington, 6-2, and the Dodgers (three back) beat Cincinnati, 5-3.

For the Dodgers, lefty Clayton Kershaw pitched for the first time since he saw a hip specialist in New York last week. He went five innings, allowing a run on five hits and five walks.

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

Brewers (Estrada, 4-6) at Nationals (Zimmermann, 11-8), 1:05 p.m. Preview >
The Brewers are fighting to stay alive in the National League Wild Card hunt, while the Nationals are in search of the best record in the NL, which would mean home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Game 1: Blue Jays (Alvarez, 9-13) at Orioles (Johnson, 3-0), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
The Orioles host Toronto in a doubleheader that could go a long way in terms of deciding the AL East race. Currently, Baltimore sits a game back of the Yankees.

Game 2: Blue Jays (Romero, 8-14) at Orioles (Chen, 12-9), Preview >
In the second game of the twin bill, Baltimore sends Wei-Yin Chen to the mound against Toronto's Ricky Romero. Chen hasn't won since Aug. 19.

Royals (Hochevar, 8-14) at Tigers (Verlander, 15-8), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
The Tigers still trail the White Sox in the AL Central, but their deficit is only one game as they play host to the Royals with ace Justin Verlander on the hill.

Cardinals (Lynn, 16-7) at Astros (Abad, 0-5), 8:05 p.m. Preview >
St. Louis is inching closer to the second Wild Card spot in the NL as it opens a series in Houston, where Lance Lynn takes the mound.

A's (Straily) at Rangers (Holland, 11-6), 8:05 p.m. Preview >
If the A's want to get back into the race in the AL West, they'll need a good showing this week in Texas against the first-place Rangers, whom the A's trail by four games. Oakland currently leads by 2 1/2 games for the second Wild Card.

Indians (McAllister, 5-8) at White Sox (Sale, 17-7), 8:10 p.m. Preview >
Clinging to a one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central, the White Sox give the ball to their ace, Chris Sale. They have held first place alone or been tied every day since July 24.

Yankees (Pettitte, 4-3) at Twins (Hendriks, 1-7), 8:10 p.m. Preview >
Veteran southpaw Andy Pettitte will be making his second start since coming off the disabled list when the first-place Yankees look to increase their one-game division lead in Minnesota.

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 at 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. 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 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 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