As he dusted himself off from his slide into third base, Robin Ventura suddenly found himself alone on the field. He thought maybe he missed the bag.

"I couldn't figure out what was going on," Ventura said Wednesday after he had powered the United States to a 12-2 Olympic baseball victory over Australia. "I actually didn't know there was a 10-run rule."His three-run triple capped an eight-run uprising by the United States in the seventh inning, and promptly ended the game.

Under Olympic rules, if one team is leading by 10 runs or more, the game is called after seven innings. So after Ventura's triple, both teams headed for the showers.

"We knew if we just kept after them, we could get something going," said Tino Martinez, who had three hits and three RBI for the Americans.

The team for Australia, a nation that has only been playing baseball for the past 10 years with any seriousness, trailed just 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh.

The victory gave the U.S. team a 2-0 record in the round-robin competition.

The game was played before a crowd of only about 2,000 at the 29,600-seat Chamshil Baseball Stadium.

Ty Griffin hit a solo homer for the first American home run of these Olympics. And Andy Benes, the University of Evansville right-hander selected by the San Diego Padres as the first pick in the 1988 draft, went the first 62/3 innings against the Aussies, striking out four, walking four and giving up three hits and two unearned runs.

Andy Nagy relieved him after Australia scored two runs to narrow the difference to 4-2 in the seventh.

The Americans, who beat host South Korea 5-3 Monday before a crowd of 15,000, next play Canada on Friday in the final game in their division.

Commemorative medals are at stake in baseball, being played as an Olympics demonstration sport for the final time. Baseball becomes a fully recognized Olympic sport at Barcelona in 1992.