CLEVELAND, AUG. 19 -- If Paul Molitor eventually does break Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, many more than the 8,288 who actually showed up will probably say they were here for this chapter in the latest version of The Streak.

His three-run, fourth-inning homer extended his hitting streak to 34 games and highlighted an eight-run rally that enabled the Milwaukee Brewers to rout the Indians, 13-2.

Teammate Rob Deer had a grand slam and Juan Nieves won a nine-hitter.

Molitor's first hit came on an 0-2 pitch in his third trip, with Milwaukee ahead, 3-0. He had grounded to short off starter Tom Candiotti and to third off Don Gordon.

He came up in the fourth with two on and none out to face Gordon, who had replaced Candiotti in the second inning.

"I was really thinking Treb {Manager Tom Trebelhorn} might want to bunt in that situation, but he gave me the sign to hit," said Molitor, who is hitting .368 this season.

He fell behind, 0-2, and said he was trying to go to right with those pitches. "I think he was either trying to come up and in or down and in, but he left it about belt high."

That fastball down the middle wound up about 10 rows up in the left field seats. Molitor's 11th homer and 51st, 52nd and 53rd RBI gave Milwaukee a 6-0 lead.

The crowd rose as soon as the ball was hit, and many fans kept on standing, giving Molitor the loudest ovation of the evening.

The homer was his first solid hit since he homered in the ninth inning last Thursday against Orioles reliever Tom Niedenfuer. Over the next six games, he benefited from seeing-eye hits.

He is tied at 34 with Dom DiMaggio (1949 Boston Red Sox), George McQuinn (1938 St. Louis Browns) and George Sisler (1925 Browns) for fifth place on the American League's all-time hitting streak list. Only eight streaks in baseball history are longer.

But with only 299 at-bats, he must average nearly four plate appearances (3.88) per game for the rest of the season to accumulate the 502 appearances required to qualify for the batting title.

Molitor was happy finally to contribute to a victory with his bat. But he remains fatalistic about the streak.

"Sooner or later, it's going to end, probably sooner than later," he said.

He is hitting .417 (60-144) with 37 runs, 29 RBI, 14 doubles, three triples and seven homers during the streak. His next target is Ty Cobb's 35-game streak in 1917 for the Detroit Tigers. Cobb is tied with Fred Clarke, who also hit in 35 games for Louisville in 1895.

If Molitor gets a hit here Thursday, he will return to Milwaukee to try to tie one Billy Hamilton, who hit in 36 straight games for Philadelphia in 1894.

The next modern-day mark is Tommy Holmes' 37 straight games for the National League's Boston Braves in 1945.

The fourth-inning hit took the increasing tension off Molitor early, something Indians Manager Doc Edwards said was a big factor in whether the streak could continue.

"I don't think there's any pressure on Paul unless it's his last at-bat and he doesn't have any hits," Edwards said.

Milwaukee switch-hitter Mike Felder, who has hit behind Molitor recently, said the team's mood is one of cautious support.

"We pretty much don't say anything in the clubhouse, but once the game starts we're all behind him and hope he gets his hit quick," Felder said.

"No one is better equipped to handle this than Paulie," said Trebelhorn, the former schoolteacher who said his best strategy in using Molitor is to leave him alone to his work.

"I saw several years ago, in watching Paul play, that the best thing that you can do with Paul Molitor is stay out of the way and let him play," Trebelhorn said.

And if Molitor gets a hit against Ken Schrom or his relief Thursday night, he can leave Cleveland, where DiMaggio's streak ended in 1941, with anything but regrets.

"I'm keeping things in perspective," Molitor said, "because you know sooner or later, it's going to be taken away from you."

Candiotti, who started the night as one of baseball's hottest pitchers, left because his right thumb was hit by Greg Brock's liner. X-rays showed no break.

Cleveland scored twice in the fifth on Junior Noboa's RBI single and Joe Carter's sacrifice fly.