USA softball drops first game at worlds since '98

BEIJING -- The U.S. softball team lost to Japan 3-1 Monday,
breaking the Americans' unbeaten streak at the world championships.

The U.S. was sent to its first loss at the worlds since 1998 and
will now have to win two games Tuesday if it is to capture its
sixth straight world title.

The Americans (8-1) will next play Australia (7-3), with the
loser taking the bronze medal. The winner will face Japan later in
the day for the gold.

"Right now we have to bounce back strong tomorrow and be ready
to play," U.S. coach Mike Candrea said. "This thing will be won
tomorrow not today."

The only run for the U.S. came in the sixth inning when Crystl
Bustos doubled in Caitlin Lowe. Jennie Finch took the loss.

Japan was backed by the pitching of Yukiko Ueno, who gave up
three hits and struck out seven.

"I must forget this victory and get ready for tomorrow's
game," she said.

In other games, Australia won twice, beating Canada 7-2 and
China 1-0.

Softball has been dropped from the Olympics, beginning with the
2012 London Games.