Braves beat Mariners and jump to the top of the East

SEATTLE — Michael Harris II was promoted from Double-A Mississippi to stabilize the Braves’ backfield defense, which was a drag before his arrival. Just over three months later, the young center fielder is the main reason Atlanta is back at the top of the National League East.

Harris continued to make a difference as the Braves beat the Mariners 6-4 on Friday to claim the top spot in the National League East for the first time this year. The young outfielder highlighted the series victory with a double and an impressive home run in the opposite field.

“He’s fun to watch and he’s a lot of fun to be around,” Braves pitcher Charlie Morton said. “He’s usually pretty laid back, but he’s still an integral part of the clubhouse with his energy and his personality. Then the talent, it’s just ridiculous.”

With their eighth straight win, the Braves moved a half-game ahead of the Mets, whose Friday night loss at Miami knocked them out of first place for the first time since April 11. Atlanta moved into a tie for first place Tuesday night but fell back when New York swept a doubleheader at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

When Harris was called up to the majors on May 28, the Braves were 7 1/2 games behind and needed a center fielder who could create some stability on the field. Four games into his career, Atlanta was 10 1/2 games behind. But the defending World Series champions have since gone 64-24.

“It shows how dedicated we are to winning and how much we want to win,” Harris said. “We were losing 10 games at one point, and now we’re leading the East. That was our main goal. We got it, and now we’re trying to keep it.”

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Braves beat Mariners and jump to the top of the East