PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies' run of five consecutive postseason appearances could end as early as Friday in Miami.
With their 8-4 loss to the first-place Nationals on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, any combination of two Philllies losses or Cardinals wins will eliminate the five-time defending National League East champions from the postseason. Philadelphia finishes up its series with Washington on Thursday night, while St. Louis has its last off-day of the regular season.
At 78-77, the Phils are 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card with just seven games to play, and the Brewers and Dodgers are also ahead of them.
Today's key games to watch (all times ET)
Nationals (Gonzalez, 20-8) at Phillies (Cloyd, 2-1), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Brewers (Peralta, 2-1) at Reds (Latos, 13-4), 12:35 p.m. Preview >
D-backs (Corbin, 6-7) at Giants (Zito, 13-8), 3:45 p.m. Preview >
Dodgers (Capuano, 11-11) at Padres (Kelly, 2-2), 10:05 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
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.