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WASHINGTON (AP) — On the same day the Marlins ended their 2014 season by getting no-hit by Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals, Miami began looking ahead by giving manager Mike Redmond a two-year contract extension.
Redmond's deal, which runs through 2017, was announced Sunday by team president David Samson during Miami's 1-0 loss to NL East champion Washington.
"I'm just excited to continue this process of building this team and this organization in the direction that we know we're headed," Redmond said after the game, which ended when Nationals rookie Steven Souza Jr. made a sensational catch of Christian Yelich's drive to deep left-center.
"What I came here for," Redmond added, "is to turn this thing around and to get us to win ballgames and get back to the playoffs."
The centerpiece of Miami's rebuilding is outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who led the NL with 37 homers despite missing the final 17 games after getting hit in the face by a pitch. He's the franchise's first home-run champion.
Mike Hill, the club's president of baseball operations, said Tuesday that when Stanton gets back from vacation, the Marlins will begin negotiating a long-term contract for the slugger.
"We said we would respect his wishes, and during the season we wouldn't discuss it, but now we're into the offseason," Hill said. "Our plan is to talk to him about extending him beyond his arbitration years."
Sunday's loss left the Marlins with a 77-85 record and fourth in the five-team NL East, 19 games behind Washington, and two behind both the Braves and Mets.
Redmond entered the weekend hoping to finish second.
Still, the Marlins wound up with their most wins in a season since going 80-82 in 2010. They also ended a slide of three consecutive last-place finishes, including when they went 62-100 in 2013, Redmond's first year as a major league manager.
"We sat down as a group and an organization and tried to figure out how we could get better and improve the ballclub. And we've been able to do that by 15 games in one year, which is not easy to do," Redmond said.
"We've got a lot of great talent in that room and with the help of those young guys, we're learning how to win and learning how to compete," he added. "For me to know that I'm going to be here for that long is great. I think it sends a message of the direction that we're headed and that's the right one."
This was the second consecutive season that the Marlins were involved in a no-hitter on the final day: In 2013, Miami's Henderson Alvarez didn't allow a hit to the Tigers.
On Sunday, Alvarez (12-7) was on the mound facing Zimmermann and allowed the game's only run in the second inning, on Ian Desmond's 24th homer.
Zimmermann (14-5) struck out 10 and allowed just two baserunners. After retiring the first 14 batters, he walked Justin Bourn on a low, full-count fastball with two outs in the fifth. In the seventh, Garrett Jones reached first base on a strike-three wild pitch; moments later, catcher Wilson Ramos picked him off.
With two outs in the ninth and a 2-1 count, Yelich turned on a 94 mph fastball over the plate. Souza, who came in as a defensive replacement in the ninth, was shaded well over toward the left-field line at a coach's prompting.
Souza sprinted, extended his glove and leaped to make the grab, using his bare hand to squeeze the ball in his mitt as he fell.
"The one thing on my mind is, no matter how I'm going to get there, I'm going to get there," Souza said. "Getting there, I kind of blacked out."
Souza held his glove aloft to show he had the ball.
"With that on the line, that might be one of the best plays I've ever seen. Ever," Yelich said.
Zimmermann raised both arms. Nationals relievers in the home bullpen lifted their arms, too. So did thousands in the Nationals Park crowd of 35,085, who roared with every pitch late.
"I don't think anyone in the stadium expected Souza to get to that," Zimmermann said.
Indeed, Miami's Mike Dunn said he and other relievers in the left-field visitors' bullpen started cheering as the ball headed their way.
"When he caught it," Dunn said, "it was just like, 'Really? Did that just happen?'"
AP freelance writer Ian Quillen contributed to this report.
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