ATLANTA -- Time is running out. But the Braves are doing their part to keep things interesting in the National League East race.
"We're having success because we're going about our business the right way at the right time of the year, and getting results on the back end," third baseman Chipper Jones said.
As the Braves were beating the Marlins on Thursday night, the first-place Nationals were strengthening their division lead with a win over the Phillies.
With just six games remaining, the Braves trail the Nationals by four games.
The Braves have already clinched the NL's top Wild Card spot. If they do not win the division, they will host the other Wild Card entry on Oct. 5 in a one-game playoff to determine which team advances to the NL Division Series.
Friday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Nationals (Jackson, 9-10) at Cardinals (Wainwright, 13-12), 8:15 p.m. Preview >
Mets (Niese, 12-9) at Braves (Hudson, 16-6), 7:35 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
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.