SAN DIEGO -- For 10 years, Ildemaro Vargas toiled everywhere from Venezuela to the independent Atlantic League while never giving up hope that he would reach the big leagues.Vargas realized his dream last year when he made his Major League debut in September, but it took until this September's callup
SAN DIEGO -- For 10 years, Ildemaro Vargas toiled everywhere from Venezuela to the independent Atlantic League while never giving up hope that he would reach the big leagues.
Vargas realized his dream last year when he made his Major League debut in September, but it took until this September's callup for him to make a big impact.
Vargas hit his first career homer and drove home three runs as the D-backs beat the Padres, 5-4, on Saturday night at Petco Park.
"I am so happy," Vargas said via a translator. "I was looking for a good fastball and he threw me a fastball."
Vargas, 27, has a story somewhat similar to D-backs outfielder David Peralta. Signed originally by the Cardinals, Vargas was released before making it to the big leagues and had to play for the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlantic League before being discovered by the D-backs.
"I'm so happy, man, so happy," said Peralta, who also was discovered by the D-backs while playing in independent ball. "It reminds me of when I was in the same situation, and I can imagine the way he feels right now, so it's pretty special. I know he's really happy and it's a special moment for him."
Earlier this year, Vargas had a 35-game hitting streak for Triple-A Reno, and he hit .311 with a .348 on-base percentage for the Aces.
A switch-hitter who has played every position on the diamond except for pitcher and catcher during his pro career, he has a chance to be in the mix for a reserve role in the big leagues next year.
"I love everything about him and the thing that stands out more to me than anything is that he's not afraid to make mistakes," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "He's going out there playing the game full speed. He's got a very nice approach offensively and the home run didn't surprise any of us, all of us that have watched him play the past couple of [springs]."
The win was the 82nd on the year for the D-backs, who assured themselves of finishing the season with a winning record. That appeared to be in jeopardy recently when the D-backs opened September by losing 18 of their first 25 games.
"I think that's something that when it's all said and done and you work through the month that we had and you can say you had a winning record, it's very positive," Lovullo said. "It's a good way to finish. These guys haven't shut down; you can see the intensity in the dugout is still there."
The D-backs jumped on Padres starter Jacob Nix (2-5) for a pair of runs in the second, one of which came on an RBI single by Vargas, and they added two more in the fourth on Vargas' homer to right.
D-backs right-hander Zack Godley (15-11) allowed three runs over six innings to pick up his first win since Aug. 29.
The D-backs clinched back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2007-08.
D-backs right-hander Shelby Miller pitched a scoreless seventh inning as the team hoped to get him one appearance before the end of the regular season. Miller, who underwent Tommy John surgery last year, initially returned from the injury June 25. He made four starts before feeling some discomfort in the elbow and being shut down.
"I thought the stuff came out hot and you've got to give him some credit," Lovullo said. "He's worked extremely hard to get himself back in that position and to complete an inning I'm sure was very gratifying to him. What I saw was an aggressive fastball, he got a ground ball on a curveball that was thrown in the right location. I thought overall it was great to see him out there, but his stuff was very positive, too."
The D-backs close out the 2018 season Sunday afternoon against the Padres at Petco Park with left-hander Robbie Ray (6-2, 3.91 ERA) on the mound. Ray is looking to continue his strong run to finish the season. Over his last seven starts he has a 1.85 ERA and has held opponents to a .153 average. Against the Padres this year, Ray is 1-0 with a 4.20 ERA in three starts. The Padres will counter with left-hander Joey Lucchesi (8-9, 4.14).
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.