Clarke enables the hosts to win the sixth one-day international and lead 5-1 despite a century from Jonathan Trott setting England with a third record total to chase on this tour.
Record score by England not enough to stop Australia
Michael Clarke smashed 82 runs off 70 balls as Australia chased down England's highest score against them to win a thrilling sixth one-day international by two wickets on Wednesday.
Clarke was run out in the second-to-last over to leave Australia requiring 8 runs from 8 balls. Entering the final over needing 6 from 6, a wide and single were followed by John Hastings guiding a Chris Woakes delivery to the boundary to bring up the winning score of 334 for eight with four balls to spare.
Australia leads the seven-match series 5-1 heading into the final game at Perth on Sunday.
Earlier, England made an imposing 333 for six at Sydney Cricket Ground after Jonathan Trott ignored leg cramps to make 137 off 126 deliveries.
Trott finished his innings with a runner after pulling up with cramps in the 42nd over. He was caught-and-bowled by Shaun Tait (2-60) off the penultimate ball of England's highest ODI innings against Australia, surpassing the 320 for eight in 1980 at Birmingham. It's England third record total against the hosts on this tour.
Andrew Strauss and Trott shared an 80-run partnership until the England captain was caught by David Hussey at short midwicket off a Steve Smith ball for 63. Trott then partnered Ian Bell in a 104-run stand before Bell was dismissed for 45.
The Australians started their chase confidently, with opener Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson making half centuries, and Callum Ferguson adding 46 off 44 balls.
Watson skied a Michael Yardy delivery to Strauss at short midwicket on 51 to leave Australia at 89 for two.
Ferguson, brought into the side to replace the injured Shaun Marsh, shared a 79-run, third-wicket stand with Johnson before being run out.
Johnson batted fourth in place of Clarke and made his 57 from 59 balls before being stumped off a Kevin Pietersen delivery. Cameron White survived a video appeal for caught behind while on 15 but soon after was caught by Eoin Morgan off a rising Steven Finn delivery for 20.
Despite that, Clarke brought up his second consecutive half century off 51 balls – including a six and a boundary in a 17-run, 44th over off James Anderson – as he and Hussey shared a 90-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
The pair played shots at will until Hussey was caught behind off Finn (2-51) for 38, with Australia needing 17 off the final 16 balls.
Pietersen, who made 29 in England's innings, limped off the ground in the 19th over of the Australia innings after he appeared to twist his ankle while fielding a Ferguson shot. He returned four overs later and rejoined the bowling attack.
A Strauss c Hussey b Smith 63
M Prior b Johnson 18
J Trott c & b Tait 137
K Pietersen c Smith b Lee 29
I Bell c Clarke b Tait 45
E Morgan c Tait b Watson 21
P Collingwood not out 7
C Woakes not out 0
Extras: (w-6, lb-4, nb-2, b-1) 13
Total: (for six wickets, 50 overs) 333
Fall of wickets: 1-41, 2-121, 3-189, 4-293, 5-319, 6-330
Bowling: Lee 9-1-66-1 (1w), Tait 10-0-59-2 (1w,1nb), Johnson 6-0-43-1 (2w,1nb), Hastings 7-0-48-0 (2w), Hussey 4-0-25-0, Smith 7-0-40-1, Clarke 1-0-7-0, Watson 6-0-40-1
S Watson c Strauss b Yardy 51
B Haddin c Trott b Anderson 20
C Ferguson run out (Prior/Yardy) 46
M Johnson st Prior b Pietersen 57
M Clarke run out (Trott) 82
C White c Morgan b Finn 20
D Hussey c Prior b Finn 38
S Smith run out (Finn/Anderson) 0
J Hastings not out 7
B Lee not out 2
Extras: (w-11) 11
Total: (for eight wickets, 492 overs) 334
Fall of wickets: 1-71, 2-87, 3-166, 4-194, 5-224, 6-314, 7-317, 8-327
Bowling: Woakes 92-0-73-0 (1w), Anderson 10-0-91-1 (1w), Finn 10-0-51-2 (1w), Yardy 10-0-47-1, Pietersen 6-0-43-1 (1w), Trott 4-0-29-0