ATLANTA — Ronald Acuna Jr. had four hits and two RBI and scored the tiebreaking run in the fourth inning to help the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves win their season-best sixth straight game with a 10-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

The Braves stayed 7 1/2 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia. Any combination of nine Atlanta victories or Phillies’ losses will give the Braves their first division title since 2013.

Nationals ace Max Scherzer (17-7) endured his shortest outing of the year, four innings, while allowing six runs — a season high — and seven hits in 102 pitches.

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, was no match for Acuna, one of baseball’s hottest hitters since the All-Star break.

The 20-year-old left fielder doubled off the wall in his first at-bat. He drove in two runs with a bloop single in the second. He tripled and scored the tiebreaking run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth. His single in the eighth gave Acuna a single-game high in hits.

Juan Soto, Washington’s 19-year-old left fielder, was impressive, too, homering in his fourth straight game and running a long way to catch a liner in the third. Soto scored the game’s first run in the second after beating a tag on Acuna’s throw to third. His 20th homer was a solo shot in the fourth.

The third-place Nationals had won four of five, but they dropped to 74-74 and can be eliminated from the division race by any combination of six Atlanta wins or Washington losses.

Kevin Gausman (10-10) gave up seven hits, two walks and four runs — three earned — in 5 2/3 innings. Gausman improved to 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA in eight starts since the Braves acquired him in a trade with Baltimore.

Atlanta led 4-2 in the third on Tyler Flowers’ two-run single. After Soto’s homer and Wilmer Difo’s RBI double forced a tie in the fourth, Acuna answered in the bottom half of the inning, tripling and scoring on Freeman’s sacrifice fly. Markakis’ RBI single put Atlanta up 6-4.

Charlie Culberson’s infield RBI single put the Braves up 7-4 in the sixth. Bryce Harper had an RBI groundout in the sixth for Washington. Markakis drove in two of the Braves’ three runs in the eighth.

 

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Nationals: Jeremy Hellickson (5-3, 3.57 ERA) will make his 19th start and first since Aug. 15 at St. Louis.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (9-7, 3.95 ERA) will make his 29th start.