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Homer-happy Upton has lifted Braves again

Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton (8) high fives teammates after beating the Washington Nationals 2-1 at Nationals Park. (Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton (8) high fives teammates after beating the Washington Nationals 2-1 at Nationals Park. (Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Justin Upton fueled the Atlanta Braves’ 10-game winning streak in April by hitting .350 with six home runs and nine RBIs.

During the current 12-game winning streak entering Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals, the outfielder has been even hotter.

Upton has a .380 average with four homers and 10 RBIs after going 2-for-4 to stretch his hitting streak to 11 games in the Braves’ 2-1 victory at Washington on Tuesday night.

The Braves and Upton both cooled off after a hot July. Now both are on fire again.

The winning streak pushed Atlanta’s lead over the second-place Nationals to 14 1/2 games in the National League East entering Wednesday night’s game and has the Braves vying for the best record in the majors.

The only real difference from the Upton of April — when he set a Braves record with 12 homers in a month — and the Upton of August is where he is hitting in the batting order.

The cleanup hitter to start the season, Upton is flourishing now at No. 2.

How hot has the former Diamondback been?

Upton’s four homers, which matched his total for the previous three months, have come in the past six games (with nine RBIs during the stretch). In the past eight games, he is batting .457.

Upton, hitting .267 with 20 home runs, had three hits, including a homer, in the series opener on Monday night at Washington and was 5-for-8 in the series as the Braves went for a sweep on Wednesday night. At press time, he had added his 21st home run in the seventh inning.

The Braves (69-45) are in complete control of the NL East, but Upton isn’t about to let up.

“The goal every season is to win as many games as you can,” Upton said. “So I don’t care what kind of lead we’ve got. We’ve got to come out and win every night. That is our goal.”

Freddie Freeman, who hit third behind Upton in the revamped lineup, goes a little further.

“When you’re in first place, you want to step on their necks, especially when we’ve got this big of a lead,” the first baseman said of the rivalry with Washington.

The winning streak is the Braves’ longest since they won 15 in a row in 2000.