SAN DIEGO (AP) — After a brutal collapse in September, the Arizona Diamondbacks were left with the consolation prize of finishing the season with a winning record.
Rookie Ildemaro Vargas hit his first home run, got his first stolen base and drove in three runs to lead the Diamondbacks to a 5-4 victory against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.
The Diamondbacks, who reached the postseason in 2017, are 82-79 with one game to go. They led the NL West heading into September but then went into a tailspin that left them 8-18 this month.
“I think that is something,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “When it’s all said and done after the month that we had, it is really positive and a good way to finish.”
Vargas hit an RBI single in the first inning and a two-run homer in the fourth, both off rookie Jacob Nix (2-5).
“I’m so happy,” the 27-year-old Vargas said. “My teammates from Venezuela were so happy and they support me. I’m happy and they are happy.”
Vargas was called up Sept. 3 from Triple-A Reno, where he was a mid-season and postseason All-Star. He made his big league debut last season, when he played in 12 games for Arizona.
Vargas’ homer staked Zack Godley to a 4-0 lead and the Diamondbacks held on to give the right-hander his career-high 15th win.
“Anytime you are talking about career first it’s an exciting time,” Lovullo said. “I think the guys gave him the silent treatment but it is something that he will never forget. And it had a big impact on the game. The home run didn’t surprise any of us because we have watched him play the past couple of years. It’s a special time for him and he’s one of those great stories.”
San Diego dropped to 65-96, five more losses than last year with one game to go. Executive chairman Ron Fowler expected the rebuilding Padres to be better this year than their 71-91 finish last year, but they’ve lost more than 90 games for the third straight year and fourth time in eight seasons.
San Diego pulled within one run in the fourth on Manuel Margot’s two-run triple and a single by rookie Javy Guerra, who got his first RBI.
San Diego’s bullpen faltered in the sixth, when Jon Jay drew a bases-loaded walk off rookie Trey Wingenter.
The Padres again pulled within one run when Eric Hosmer homered off Brad Ziegler in the eighth, his 18th.
Godley (15-11) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, struck out five and walked two. Yoshihisa Hirano pitched the ninth for his third save.
Nix allowed four runs and five hits in four innings, walked three and had no strikeouts.
“Overall I’m happy I got to be here; I’m not exactly happy with the results,” he said. “This isn’t how I was drawing up my last game in my head but it doesn’t always happen the way you imagine it. I’m ready to get to work in the offseason and try to turn my weaknesses into strengths and get back out there.”
The 38-year-old Arizona reliever, who’s in the last year of his contract, told Lovullo he’d like to pitch in more than half of the team’s games. Saturday night’s appearance was his 82nd.
“When the big man runs the floor, you’ve got to give him the ball,” Lovullo said. “I’m going to dish that one to him and let him dunk it. He deserves that. He’s had two managers who really relied on him and that’s a credit to him.”
Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray (6-2, 3.91) gets the start in the season finale. He’s 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA in his last 10 starts.
Padres: Rookie LHP Joey Lucchesi (8-9, 4.14) looks to break through against Arizona after going 0-5 with a 6.85 ERA in five starts against the Diamondbacks.