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Strike three

U.S. loses third straight, but not out yet

Posted: Thursday September 21, 2000 12:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday November 08, 2000 3:38 PM

  Lisa Fernandez Lisa Fernandez notched 25 of her 39 outs by strikeout, but took the loss. AP

BLACKTOWN, Australia ( - The U.S. lost its third-straight game Thursday, losing to Australia 2-1.

Peta Edebone's home run with two outs in the bottom of the 13th inning gave the host team the victory.

Lisa Fernandez struck out 25 and gave up just two hits, but the Americans were unable to score until Christie Ambrosi's single drove in the game's first run in the top of the 13th.

Fernandez retired the first two batters in the bottom half before Peta Edebone hit it over the left-field wall to send the Australian crowd into a frenzy.

"When I rounded third and I looked at my teammates at home plate all crying, I burst into tears," Edebone said.

While the Aussies dropped to the ground in exhaustion around home plate, the Americans retreated to the dugout, crying.

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"The nightmare continues," Fernandez said. "If we come back and win the gold, there will be no sweeter win."

It was the third consecutive U.S. game that was scoreless into extra innings, and the third that ended with the defending Olympic champions in shock.

The three-game losing streak is a stunning turnaround for a team that had won 110 in a row heading to Sydney and hadn't lost three straight in internationally sanctioned games since 1983.

"It's like this voodoo that's over us," Ambrosi said. "But it's got to end sometime."

The last U.S. loss, before this week, had been to Australia at the 1998 world championships. The Americans' only loss at the '96 Olympics came when Australia's Joanne Brown homered off Fernandez with two outs in the 10th to spoil her perfect game.

That was enough to make Thursday's matchup the focus for both teams. But the game became increasingly important when both teams lost to Japan -- and then the Americans lost to China, which has yet to play Australia.

The top four in the eight-team tournament advance after the round-robin. But the medal round is set up so that the third and fourth place teams would have to win an extra game to win the gold medal.

Having lost to the top three teams in the standings, the Americans -- heavy favorites coming in -- are likely headed for fourth.

The Americans still have games against non-contenders New Zealand and Italy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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