Beijing, China (Sports Network) - Pitcher Monica Abbott was perfect through five innings, and the United States softball team cruised to an 8-0 victory over the Netherlands at the Beijing Olympics.
Abbott struck out nine while setting down all 15 Dutch batters she faced, leading the U.S. to its 20th consecutive Olympic victory dating back to 2000.
The game was shortened to five innings by the mercy rule, the fourth time in six contests the U.S. has closed out an opponent in fewer than the scheduled seven frames.
Abbott's performance could not be called a perfect game.
"I'm sure she doesn't mind giving that up," said U.S. catcher Stacey Nuveman. "In games like this, if we can get the win in early, we will."
The Americans got more power output from Crystl Bustos, who went 3-for-3 with a solo home run and two RBI to lead the offense, which has outscored opponents 44-1 in six wins.
Tairai Flowers and Jessica Mendoza also blasted homers to give the Americans 12 during these Games, a new Olympic record. Bustos and Mendoza have four homers apiece.
"They seem to hit everything," said Dutch pitcher Rebecca Soumeru, who surrendered six runs -- five earned -- in two innings. "The way they hit over the fence -- it's amazing."
The U.S. -- its spot already secure in the semifinals -- will face China on Monday in the final day of preliminary games. The Americans are guaranteed a medal.
The Netherlands, the worst team at the Olympics, fell to 0-6.
With all eight teams in competition Sunday, there were three other games on the schedule.
China was all but eliminated from competition by a 2-1 loss to Chinese Taipei, a result that gave both teams a 2-4 record. With four teams already holding at least three wins, things looked dire for the host Chinese.
Japan (5-1) used a four-run fifth inning to get past Venezuela, 5-2, and remain in second place behind the U.S. heading into the last week. The loss dropped Venezuela to 2-4.
Australia posted a big win over Canada, clinching a 4-0 victory with a three- run rally in the seventh inning to move to 4-2 and secure its third place standing.
08/17 09:46:44 ET