CINCINNATI -- The Brewers still need "a lot of help," as manager Ron Roenicke put it, but they can help themselves on Thursday.
With the Cardinals idle, a Brewers win in the series finale against the Reds would pull Milwaukee to within three games of St. Louis in the race for the second National League Wild Card with six games to play.
The Brewers will play those games at home against the Astros and Padres. The Cardinals return to action Friday and finish at home against the postseason-bound Nationals and Reds.
Then there are the Dodgers, whose 80-75 record is tied with the Brewers. They finish a series at San Diego on Thursday, then head home to host the Rockies and Giants.
"At this point, where we put ourselves, unfortunately we need help from somebody," Roenicke said. "But if we continue to play well, it gives us that chance that somebody can come in and get hot and beat [the Cardinals]."
Thursday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Brewers (Peralta, 2-1) at Reds (Latos, 13-4), 12:35 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