The Braves handled the Nationals, 12-2, in Friday’s series opener at Truist Park as Atlanta notched its 50th win of the season.

The Braves are 50-35.

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Here are five observations:

1. When the Nationals and Braves last played, Atlanta steamrolled Washington and collected the final three wins of its 14-game streak.

A few weeks passed, but nothing changed.

The Braves put together a complete performance in a game that included an eighth-inning rain delay. They launched four homers, including big blasts from Ronald Acuña and Michael Harris. They exploded for a huge second inning. Charlie Morton turned in another terrific outing.

Atlanta jumped out to an early six-run lead. This game was never in question.

The Braves are 2 1/2 games back of the Mets.

“Last year, nobody wanted to run away with this thing,” manager Brian Snitker said. “There was a team that looked like they wanted to run away with it (this year), so it’s good that we kind of found ourselves a little earlier. We’re just playing more consistent baseball that we’re capable of doing now.”

Credit: Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com

Credit: Chris Day/Christopher.Day@ajc.com

2. Morton might be back to himself.

Morton allowed two runs over seven innings. The only damage came on Juan Soto’s two-run homer in the third inning. Morton struck out seven batters and gave up four hits in a 105-pitch outing.

He has a 1.60 ERA over his last five starts. He has gone seven innings in four of them, and has held the opponent scoreless in two.

Asked about his improvement, Morton talked about his June 5 start in Colorado. The result was not there – he allowed four runs over five innings – but he began doing something.

“In Denver, I made a concerted effort to try to get into my push leg and try to just get more into that right leg,” Morton said. “I think what it did was it kind of changed my timing a little bit. It changed my extension, I get a little more extension. Consistency, direction. I started making pitches a little better. My arm started to feel better. So I think it kind of just cleaned up my delivery.”

Before his June 17 start in Chicago, Morton had allowed four or more runs in an outing seven times, including in four straight outings from the end of May into early June.

When he recorded his final out, Morton’s 108 strikeouts ranked fourth in the National League and eighth in Major League Baseball.

3. Harris had the best game of his young career.

He went 4-for-4 with four RBIs. He blasted a two-run homer in the eighth inning after lining a two-run double to spark a big second inning. And in the middle of those big knocks, he hit two singles.

Harris, who finished a triply shy of the cycle, continues to impress in every facet of the game.

“I didn’t know what to expect offensively and it’s been, wow,” Snitker said. “It’s been really good. The adjustments he’s made, the new league, the whole thing. It’s been pretty special.”

Harris is batting .310, which is the highest batting average by a Braves rookie through 39 career games since José Constanza hit .311 in his first 39 contests. Harris is also the second player in franchise history to record four hits, four RBIs and three runs in a game within his first 39 career games.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

4. The Braves have played five games in this homestand. In three of them, they have put together a five-run inning.

They did it Monday against the Cardinals, then again Tuesday. They notched another in Friday’s second inning.

The big blow came when Acuña, who had one homer in his last 19 games, blasted a 446-foot, three-run home run off Erick Fedde to give the Braves an early six-run lead. And this ball left the yard right after Harris, who hit before Acuña, went the other way for a two-run double.

“Just grinding at-bats,” Snitker said. “Not giving up at-bats. Staying in the moment.”

The Braves have one of baseball’s most explosive offenses.

5. Morton owns an impressive streak: He has picked off a runner at first base in three straight starts.

He did it in Philadelphia on June 28, then in Cincinnati on Sunday. He ended Friday’s top of the fifth by picking off a runner at first.

Braves 12, Nationals 2

Stat to know

11.03 - In 10 appearances – nine starts – versus the Braves in his career, Fedde has an 11.03 ERA.

Quotable

“That ball jumps off his bat, that’s for sure.” - Snitker on Harris

Up next

Kyle Wright faces Washington left-hander Patrick Corbin in Saturday’s game, which begins at 4:10 p.m.