U.S. extends non-Olympic streak to 164

Updated: July 14, 2004, 1:13 AM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Stacey Nuveman hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to help the U.S. Olympic softball team rally from a three-run deficit to beat a team of All-Stars from the National Pro Fastpitch league 5-3 Tuesday.

The game was the second of a doubleheader, and the United States extended its winning streak in non-Olympic games to 164.

With the Athens Games a month away, coach Mike Candrea welcomed the close call.

``I think sometimes it kind of puts a team in a mind-set of red alert instead of cruising through everything,'' Candrea said. ``We've got to spend some quality time the two weeks that we're in Athens trying to prepare.''

Crystl Bustos hit a two-run home run in the sixth and Leah O'Brien-Amico tied it in the seventh with a bloop single after back-to-back errors by the NPF All-Stars as the Olympic team rallied from a 3-0 deficit.

U.S. starter Jennie Finch avoided her first loss since the Women's College World Series final in 2002 _ played on the same field at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

Cat Osterman pitched 4 1-3 scoreless innings in relief before Nuveman's homer off Peaches James.

``We haven't been tested all that much as this tour has progressed,'' Nuveman said. ``We come out tonight and get behind three runs and have to find a way to get some runs back on the board get back in the ballgame. It's a boost for us and a good learning experience as we head into Athens.''

Before Tuesday, the United States hadn't given up a run in a month and hadn't given up more than one in 40 games since March. It was the first extra-inning game on the team's cross-country tour.

In the first game, Lisa Fernandez and Jessica Mendoza each drove in two runs and Fernandez pitched a two-hitter as the Olympians beat another team of NPF All-Stars 5-0.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press