The loss, just the third suffered by the Wildcats at Jerry Kindall Field this season, dropped UA to 36-12 overall and to 11-6 in the Pac-10. USC, which snapped a six-game losing streak to the Wildcats with the win, improved to 24-23 overall and to 7-10 in the conference.
Leading 1-0 after five innings, the Trojans took advantage of a David Coulon throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the sixth to score a pair of runs and tacked on two more in the frame on a Lucas Duda double and run-scoring hit by pitch to jump out to a commanding 5-0 lead.
USC pushed the advantage to 6-0 on a fielder’s choice ground out in the seventh before the Wildcats finally plated a run in the home half of the frame on back-to-back doubles by Rhinehart and Brad Glenn.
Meanwhile, SC starter Ryan Cook (7-2), who cruised through the first seven innings by limiting the Wildcats to just the single run on six hits, ran out of gas in the eighth to give the Wildcats hope.
The Trojan right-hander issued one-out walks to Diallo Fon and Colt Sedbrook before C.J. Ziegler loaded the bases with a single to right. Rhinehart followed with his second career grand slam against the Trojans, a towering homer over the right field fence, to cut the SC lead to one at 6-5.
The UA come-from-behind bid ended there however, as Paul Koss, who entered the week of play tied for the national saves lead, worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings the rest of the way to slam the door for his 15th save of the season.
The Trojans added another run in the ninth on a fielding miscue by Jon Gaston in right for the final two-run edge.
Cook (7-2) picked up his seventh win of the season, allowing five runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. He struck out four and walked five on the night.
Coulon (3-3), who made the start in place of an ailing Brad Mills, was charged with the loss after allowing five runs, three earned, on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.