PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies know where they are in the National League Wild Card standings.
Mathematically, they are alive. Realistically, they are probably not.
They beat the Washington Nationals on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park, 6-3, to remain 5 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot with eight games to play. The Phillies' elimination number is three, meaning any combination of Cardinals wins and Phillies losses equaling three will keep the Phillies from the postseason for the first time since 2006. Even if the Phillies finish 8-0, the Cardinals would need to finish no better than 2-5 to force a tie.
Wednesday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Nationals (Lannan, 3-0) at Phillies (Kendrick, 10-11), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Brewers (Marcum, 5-4) at Reds (Arroyo, 12-8), 7:10 p.m. Preview >
Cardinals (Carpenter, 0-0) at Astros (Norris, 5-13), 8:05 p.m. Preview >
Dodgers (Harang, 9-10) at Padres (Kelly, 2-2), 6:35 p.m. Preview >
If the postseason started today ...
This is how the teams would match up: Postseason Bracket »
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.
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.
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
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.