Padres pitcher Musgrove backs talented team to rebound from skid

Despite a roster filled with big names making big money and coming off a 2022 season in which they advanced to the National League Championship Series, the San Diego Padres' first half couldn't have been more disappointing.

That disappointment continued Thursday when the Padres wasted a four-run lead in a 5-4 loss to the host Pittsburgh Pirates that left San Diego with a 37-44 record at the season's midpoint.

"I know from the outside it looks like a bunch of overpaid guys not performing," Padres starting pitcher Joe Musgrove said. "But sometimes there's just no answer. We're going through it right now."

Henry Davis capped his first three-hit game with go-ahead single in a three-run seventh inning that rallied the Pirates to a three-game sweep. San Diego has lost five straight and eight of 10 since taking two of three from major league-best Tampa Bay Rays.

That leaves the Padres, who began the season with Major League Baseball's third-highest payroll at nearly $258 million, 10½ games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West and eight back for the last NL wild card.

"Look, we have to put these things away and we have to be mentally tough," manager Bob Melvin said. "At some point in time, we have to start over and understand this isn't what we wanted. There's nothing we can do about it. We need to have a big second half."

The trouble began with the Padres leading 4-0 in the fourth inning when Pirates shortstop Nick Gonzales began the comeback with a sacrifice fly before Davis cut the deficit to 4-2 with an RBI single in the sixth.

Tim Hill (1-2) relieved Musgrove starting the seventh and walked pinch hitter Rodolfo Castro leading off, and rookie Jared Triolo singled.

Jack Suwinski followed with a dribbler down the first-base line, and Hill rushed the ball to first that bounced down the right-field line. Suwinski was credited with a run-scoring infield hit and Triola, who had been on second, scored on the error. An embarrassed Hill covered his face with his glove.

"Everyone sees it. We feel it, for sure," Musgrove said. "But if you think this team is rolling over, you're sorely mistaken. It just feels like every loss that goes by just piles on and piles on and piles on. We need to put a couple good games together here."

Luis Garcia relieved and retired Andrew McCutchen on a groundout. Davis then flared an opposite-field single into right for a 5-4 lead.

Dauri Moreta (4-2) pitched a hitless inning. David Bednar got four outs for his 16th save in 17 chances, striking out Padres stars Trent Grisham, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto.

San Diego built its lead on Ha-Seong Kim's sacrifice fly in the first, Grisham's two-run homer in the second and Kim's home run in the fourth.

Musgrove allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings. Pirates starter Luis Ortiz gave up four runs and six hits in 4⅔ innings.

"There's plenty of fight left in this team," Musgrove said. "We haven't played our best ball yet. We're sure not giving up yet."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.