WASHINGTON (AP) — As the ball soared toward deep left-center, seemingly destined to end Jordan Zimmermann’s bid for the first no-hitter by a Washington Nationals pitcher, the righty threw his head back and thought, “Double. Nodoubt double.”

Zimmermann was one out from history Sunday, and for what must have seemed like forever he watched little-used rookie left fielder Steven Souza Jr. — a defensive replacement in the ninth inning — give chase.

“Once I got closer,” Souza said, “I knew, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is going to be pretty close.’ So I took off.”

Souza sprinted, extended his glove and leaped for a sensational overhead grab, using his bare hand to squeeze the ball in his black mitt as he tumbled to the grass. That grab preserved Zimmermann’s gem and ended Washington’s 1-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on the last day of the regular season.

He held his glove aloft to show he had the ball. 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 down the stretch.

Quite a way to cap a regular season in which the Nationals finished with the NL’s best record, 96-66. Washington hosts San Francisco or Pittsburgh in Game 1 of a division series Friday.

Zimmermann (14-5) threw 104 pitches, had 10 strikeouts and allowed only two baserunners. After retiring the first 14 batters.