SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cardinals gave the D-backs an opportunity to make up ground in the National League Wild Card race Wednesday night, but Arizona did not take advantage.
While the Cards lost to the Astros, the D-backs could not solve Matt Cain and the Giants as they dropped a 6-0 decision at AT&T Park.
So while the D-backs didn't drop a game in the standings -- they remain 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals -- they lost a day off the calendar, and at this stage, that is just as bad.
There are just seven games left for the D-backs, and their elimination number is down to two. That means any combination of St. Louis wins or Arizona losses that equal two will end the D-backs' postseason hopes.
The soonest the D-backs could be eliminated is Friday night because while they play the Giants on Thursday, the Cardinals are off before opening a three-game series with the Nationals in St. Louis.
Thursday's key games to watch (all times MST)
Brewers (Peralta, 2-1) at Reds (Latos, 13-4), 9:25 a.m. Preview >
Dodgers (Capuano, 11-11) at Padres (Kelly, 2-2), 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.
Tiebreaker rules »
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
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.