A century from Australia debutant Nicole Bolton thwarted England Women's first attempt to retain the Ashes as they fell to a 26-run defeat in the second one-day international in Melbourne.
The tourists came into Friday's contest with an 8-0 lead on points, having won the only Test and first ODI in the points-based multi-format series.
However, Bolton's heroics helped Australia to a decent total of 266 for seven and England fell just short of their target despite half-centuries for Heather Knight, Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver.
The hosts opted to bat first and opener Bolton was lucky to escape dismissal in just the second over when Jenny Gunn dropped a thick edge at gully.
That lapse came back to haunt England as the Australian made the most of the reprieve with a succession of fine shots on her way to a score of 124.
Despite the loss of fellow opener Meg Lanning for just five, Bolton's second-wicket stand of 95 with Jess Cameron (44) and a further partnership of 75 with Alex Blackwell (56) set Australia on their way to a good total.
It was Sciver who eventually accounted for Bolton, with the 25-year-old facing 152 balls and smashing 12 boundaries.
England's reply got off to the worst possible start when captain Charlotte Edwards was bowled by Holly Ferling on the first ball she faced.
Lydia Greenway's cheap dismissal then left the tourists rocking on 13 for two before 55 from Knight got England back on an even keel.
Taylor then added 63 to the total but the wickets continued to fall at regular intervals and it was left to Sciver to try to rescue something with both batters and deliveries running out.
The 21-year-old made a valiant attempt to get the visitors over the line but was the last woman out for 57 as England came up short on 240.
England, who still head the series 8-2, will have another chance to retain the Ashes in the third ODI in Hobart on Sunday.
England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor felt Australia deserve all the credit for their impressive batting display.
She told BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra: "The Aussie girls batted beautifully, we lost wickets at crucial times and the game got away from us.
"It was nice to get some runs, it was just a shame I couldn't continue.
"Our fielding wasn't up to scratch, we dropped a few catches, but we're going to have to look at today as a bad day in the field."