Chris Woakes claimed the best figures by an England bowler on foreign soil but it was not enough as Australia clinched the one-day international series with a comfortable 51-run win in Brisbane.
In just his second game the 21-year-old Woakes proved himself as one of England's brightest talents with six for 45 as Australia were bowled out for 249 in 49.3 overs.
That appeared an achievable target but an aggressive opening spell from Brett Lee, who was at one stage on a hat-trick, and the worrying return of some soft dismissals combined to see England bowled out for 198 and concede the seven-match series at 4-1.
Adding to England's worries was a leg injury to Ajmal Shahzad, while Chris Tremlett was ruled out before the game with a slight side strain, which threatens to further deplete a bowling attack that is already without Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan after they flew home due to injury last week.
For Australia it was their first series win in any format since last March and arrived on a night dedicated to the fundraising support for the flood victims of south-east Queensland.
It also proved an occasion to finally provide some solace for Australia's under-fire stand-in captain Michael Clarke, who top-scored with 54 after being booed to the crease by the Gabba crowd.
England's chase began poorly in the face of Lee's feisty opening spell as they crashed to 22 for three.
Lee (two for 21) had targeted Andrew Strauss with a couple of well-aimed bouncers before he accounted for Matt Prior (14) for the third time in the series.
Prior paid for an unconventional stroke to have his off stump pinned back before Strauss (three) followed him from the first ball of Doug Bollinger's next over, pulling tamely to Steve Smith.
Lee was on a hat-trick when Jonathan Trott, England's centurion in Adelaide on Wednesday, was unlucky to flick his first ball straight to Bollinger at short fine-leg.
New man Bell ducked under a bouncer from the hat-trick ball before combining with Pietersen in a rebuilding mission.
They put on 73 without fuss, with Pietersen particularly impressive, before the 30-year-old meekly surrendered his wicket.
Pietersen miscued a slower short ball from Hastings to prompt a second mini-collapse of three for eight and virtually seal England's fate.
Eoin Morgan (two) needlessly holed out in the deep off Smith soon after and when Bell (36) chopped on off Hastings, England were 103 for six.
The last recognised batsman Paul Collingwood (18) was then caught in the deep from Shane Watson's first ball before the margin of defeat was only reduced by a 53-run stand between last pair James Anderson and Steven Finn, the latter clubbing 35 from 24 balls.
Earlier, Woakes struck in the first over of a spell on three occasions as he returned his impressive figures.
His first wicket came from just his second ball when Watson (16) cut viciously to point where Collingwood held a sharp chance.
Finn, who was handed his one-day international debut, then claimed his first one-day wicket by yorking Haddin (37) before Clarke was booed as he walked to the crease.
The 29-year-old has has become the focus of criticism in Australia following a barren winter with the bat, but seemed to at least win over some of his doubters as he reached 50 for just the second time during England's tour.
Clarke started fluently, taking 17 from his first 13 deliveries, although his scoring rate turned to a trickle, using 39 balls for his next 18 runs as the loss of Shaun Marsh (16) and Cameron White (16) provoked caution.
Clarke bedded in alongside David Hussey in a rebuilding 65-run stand off 95 balls before Woakes returned again to make an immediate impact.
The right-armer this time took one ball to strike when Hussey (34) chopped onto his own stumps before Clarke reached his half-century to earn warm applause from a crowd that had booed him 70 balls previously.
The New South Welshman failed to cash in on their renewed support, however, as he moved along only to 54 before top-edging a pull off Woakes that Strauss easily held running in from cover.
Woakes then completed a five-wicket haul when John Hastings (13) lifted him to Collingwood in the deep before Lee (nought) sliced to deep third man to ensure his record figures.
S R Watson c Collingwood b Woakes 16
B J Haddin b Finn 37
S E Marsh c Strauss b Collingwood 16
M J Clarke c Strauss b Woakes 54
C L White c Prior b Woakes 16
D J Hussey b Woakes 34
S P D Smith not out 24
M G Johnson b Anderson 16
J W Hastings c Collingwood b Woakes 13
B Lee c Sub b Woakes 0
D E Bollinger run out 6
Extras b2 lb3 w11 nb1 pens 0 17
Total (49.3 overs) 249
Fall: 1-48 2-72 3-96 4-113 5-178 6-190 7-212 8-233 9-234
Bowling: Anderson 10 1 42 1
Shahzad 8 1 46 0
Finn 10 0 61 1
Woakes 10 0 45 6
Collingwood 10 1 36 1
Trott 1.3 0 14 0
A J Strauss c Smith b Bollinger 3
M J Prior b Lee 14
I J L Trott c Bollinger b Lee 0
K P Pietersen c Lee b Hastings 40
I R Bell b Hastings 36
E J G Morgan c Johnson b Smith 2
P D Collingwood c Hastings b Watson 18
C R Woakes c Haddin b Watson 8
A Shahzad c Haddin b Bollinger 9
J M Anderson not out 20
S T Finn b Watson 35
Extras lb2 w5 nb6 pens 0 13
Total (45.3 overs) 198
Fall: 1-20 2-20 3-22 4-95 5-98 6-103 7-128 8-128 9-145
Bowling: Lee 7 0 21 2
Bollinger 9 1 57 2
Johnson 8 1 29 0
Hastings 9 0 35 2
Smith 8 0 29 1
Watson 4.3 1 25 3Reuse content