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April 11, 2010

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EXCERPT | April 27, 1987

A Heady Start

For a magical fortnight the Brewers were unbeatable

Coming off three straight losing seasons, unheralded Milwaukee began the 1987 campaign on a record tear. Bruce Newman reported for SI.

By the bottom of the ninth inning at County Stadium last Sunday afternoon, it seemed that the inevitable had finally arrived. The Brewers had opened the 1987 season with 11 consecutive wins, tying them with the 1981 Oakland A's for the best start in American League history, but now they trailed Texas 4--1. As Milwaukee came off the field to the dugout for its final turn at bat, the Easter crowd of 29,357 began to rise and cheer.

The applause had a valedictory feel at first, a certain sadness that the streak was about to come to an end. But then the cheering began to swell into something more until, with two men on and one man out, leftfielder Rob Deer strode to the plate.

Deer, who had hit his sixth homer of the season in the fifth, turned on reliever Greg Harris's second pitch, propelling it 445 feet into the leftfield seats, against a strong wind. Tie score. Suddenly, winning seemed inevitable. With two outs and a man on, shortstop Dale Sveum lofted a towering homer to right. "It felt like we just won the World Series," said Deer, and indeed, for 15 minutes after the players left the field, people stood in the stands, cheering and stomping their feet. It was only April 19, but they were waiting for an even bigger miracle in Milwaukee.

Monday night the streak continued, as the Brewers beat the White Sox 5--4, to tie the major league record set by the 1982 Atlanta Braves.

Milwaukee lost to Chicago the next night. In May the Brewers dropped 12 in a row before recovering to finish 91--71, good for third in the AL East.

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PHOTOPhotograph by JOHN IACONOWRECKING CREW Deer, who hit three homers in the series sweep of Texas, wasn't the only hero of the Brewers' run—pitcher Juan Nieves threw a no-hitter against Baltimore for win number nine. PHOTOGARRY WINOGRAND PHOTOJOHN IACONO PHOTOTREVOR JONES PHOTOFRED VUICH (WOODS) PHOTOMIKE POWELL/GETTY IMAGES (MALONE) PHOTOMATT CARDY/GETTY IMAGES (DELVE) PHOTOLOU CAPOZZOLA (HAYES) PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (MCNABB) PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHO (HUGGINS) PHOTOGREG NELSON (DURANT)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)