After watching the Reds homer and collect three walks in the first, Vargas bounced back and did not allow a run for the rest of his outing as the Diamondbacks beat the Reds, 3-1, in front of 27,398 at Chase Field for their seventh straight win.
It didn't look promising for Vargas or the Diamondbacks when the second hitter of the game -- Felipe Lopez -- hit a deep fly to center that hit the padded girder next to the 413 sign and caromed wildly away from outfielder Jeff DaVanon. The speedy Lopez circled the bases for an inside-the-park homer, the third in Chase Field history.
"I haven't seen a ball hit like that and kick that way," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "Not here before."
Vargas then walked the bases loaded with two outs and Brandon Phillips at the plate.
"Right there in the first inning we had a chance to do something," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "Just one hit away from doing some damage early."
They couldn't get that one hit, though, as Vargas struck out Phillips to end the inning.
"That was big," catcher Johnny Estrada said. "Anytime you get three walks and a home run in one inning and only give up one run, you did something right."
As he walked back out to the mound to start the second, Vargas had a little bit of a chat with himself.
"I think I lost my release point in the first inning," he said. "I threw a lot of bad pitches, mostly fastballs. After the first inning I went back to the mound and I said, 'That inning is over. It's a new game now. I'm starting a new game now.'"
How long Vargas would last in the "new game" was a serious question, given that he threw a whopping 42 pitches in the first inning. But he found his release point and allowed just two more hits over the next five innings.
"That was the most impressive thing in the game today," Melvin said of the bounce back by Vargas.
"He settled down and got outs when he needed to after that," Narron said. "He pitched well after the first."
It's a good thing for the Diamondbacks that he did, because they were up against a very tough customer in Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo, who came into the game with a 5-0 record and a microscopic 2.06 ERA.
"That's a good pitcher out there, man, one of the best in the league," Estrada said.
What makes him especially tough is how unpredictable he is with his pitches. From the first pitch of the game -- a changeup -- to fastballs in breaking-ball counts to breaking balls in fastball counts, he kept the Diamondbacks guessing.
"He's tough to think along with," Melvin said. "I mean he can drop that breaking ball in there for a strike just as easily as he can his fastball."
Estrada got the Diamondbacks on the board in the second when his double to right scored Conor Jackson. Two batters later, Estrada came home on Craig Counsell's opposite-field single and the D-Backs led 2-1.
They would add an insurance run in the fourth when Estrada doubled for the second time -- he would end up with three -- and Counsell again drove him home, this time with a groundout.
"Big ones," Melvin said of Counsell's RBIs. "That's what he does."
Arroyo gave up a career-high 11 hits in six innings.
"I didn't feel like I had great stuff," he said. "I felt like I had decent stuff. These guys had a good approach to me. I don't know if they studied a lot of tape or if they saw the ball come out of my hand good. They were definitely on my stuff better than anybody this year."
Vargas won for the third straight start and over that stretch has allowed just two earned runs over 19 innings.
"Hats off to Claudio," Melvin said.