August 13, 2008 / 2:42 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Olympics-Cat purring as U.S. blank Australia

(Adds late games)

By Steve Keating

BEIJING, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Cat Osterman tossed a no-hitter and Crystl Bustos crushed a two-run homer to power the United States to a 3-0 victory over Australia on Wednesday for their 16th consecutive Olympic softball victory.

In two games, the Americans have yet to allow a hit, Osterman's seven-inning gem following a five-inning masterpiece from Jennie Finch and reliever Monica Abbott in an 11-0 rout of Venezuela.

Osterman's no-hitter was just the fourth ever at the Olympics and the second by an American.

The Americans have lost just four times on the way to winning three Olympic gold medals and the Australians have taken two of those scalps, once at the 1996 Atlanta Games and again four years later in Sydney.

Since that preliminary round loss at the 2000 Summer Games, the United States has embarked on a 16-game winning steak that has included 14 shutouts.

In the rematch of the 2004 gold medal final the Australians sputtered, falling to 0-2 in Beijing following a 4-3 loss to Japan in their opener.

With the United States clinging to a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, Bustos, who slammed an Olympic record five home runs in Athens in 2004, clinched the victory with her second homer of the Beijing Games.

"The pitch wasn't bad," Australian pitcher Tanya Harding told reporters. "I was more annoyed about getting the runner on base before her."

In other preliminary round play, China improved to 2-0 with a 7-1 win over Olympic debutantes Venezuela.

The Venezuelan's celebrated their first run in Olympic competition, when 41-year-old catcher Zuleyma Cirimele drove across Yuruby Alicart in the fourth inning.

Canada and Japan also improved to 2-0.

Japan pushed across a run in the fourth and fifth innings then held on to edge Taiwan 2-1, while Canada broke open a tight contest with a three-run burst in the third then added four more in the fourth to cruise past the Netherlands 9-2. (Editing by Alex Richardson)

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