PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers figured they might have to win all three series of this tough, three-city road trip to have a realistic shot at the postseason. So far, so good.
The Brewers beat the Pirates on Wednesday, 3-1, to seal the series victory, and will aim for a three-game sweep on Thursday afternoon.
After the last out, the Brewers retreated to the clubhouse, where one TV aired the Dodgers-Nationals nightcap and another showed Cardinals-Astros.
Both Los Angeles and St. Louis, the two teams Milwaukee is chasing, won. But it was nonetheless a good day when you consider that by virtue of the Dodgers' doubleheader split, the Brewers gained ground in the race for the National League's second Wild Card.
The Cardinals still lead, at 79-70. The 77-72 Dodgers dropped a half-game on Wednesday and trail St. Louis by two games. The Brewers are 76-72 and sit 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals and only a half-game behind the Dodgers.
"It's amazing," said Wednesday's winning pitcher, Marco Estrada, who pitched seven scoreless innings. "It feels a lot like last year, where we were all just super-relaxed. We're having a great time playing. It's just a great atmosphere, and it's been pretty good that way all year. We haven't got down on ourselves."
Thursday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Astros (Norris, 5-12) at Cardinals (Garcia, 4-7), 1:45 p.m. Preview >
Brewers (Fiers, 9-8) at Pirates (Rodriguez, 11-13), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
Dodgers (Capuano, 11-10) at Nationals (Detwiler, 9-6), 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