ATLANTA -- For at least one more day, the Braves kept their hopes for a National League East title alive. Their 6-2 victory against the Mets on Sunday, combined with the Cardinals' 10-4 win over the Nationals, kept Washington's magic number for clinching the division at one.
The Braves have already clinched at least a spot in the NL Wild Card game, which they would host Friday if they can't chase down the Nationals. The best the Braves can hope for in the division is to tie with the Nationals, setting up a one-game playoff in Washington on Thursday. To do so, the Braves must sweep the Pirates and the Phillies must sweep the Nationals in the season's final three days.
After finishing a 5-1 homestand against the Marlins and Mets, third baseman Chipper Jones said had the Braves been able to sweep New York this weekend, it would have made the division race slightly more exciting.
"[We] would have liked to have swept and given ourselves just a little bit better opportunity to kind of make Washington nervous," Jones said. "But we've got to give some credit to those guys over there."
Monday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Braves (Maholm, 13-10) at Pirates (Locke, 0-3), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Phillies (Kendrick, 10-12) at Nationals (Lannan, 4-0), 7:05 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
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.