Yadier Molina's RBI single in the sixth inning was the difference maker as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Washington Nationals, 3-2, Monday in the first of a three-game set.
Allen Craig had a two-run double for the Cardinals, who saw starter Shelby Miller (3-1) have a solid performance in which the rookie fanned eight and allowed two runs on four hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings.
Edward Mujica pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his second save of the season.
"This is a really tough road trip," said Craig. "Playing some tough teams, and it's a long one. And anytime you can pull out wins like that in close games, it's definitely a good thing. Tough place to play and to get that win today, it's big."
Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon drove in a run apiece for the Nationals, who were shut out by the Mets, 2-0, on Sunday. Starter Dan Haren (1-3), who came into the game with a 8.10 ERA, gave up three runs on six hits and three walks in five-plus innings.
"I want more out of myself than five innings," said Haren. "I have been around for 10 years and I'm used to throwing seven, eight innings every time and I've thrown 200 innings many times.
Craig was the first to knock in a run when his double in the third inning plated Pete Kozma and Matt Carpenter.
Desmond got the Nationals on the board in the fourth when he knocked a double to deep center and scored Jayson Werth, who singled to lead off the inning. Rendon followed with a double of his own, bringing Desmond home and tying the game at 2-2.
Matt Holliday was hit by a pitch to start the Cardinals' half of the sixth. Following a single by Carlos Beltran, Molina's line drive to right center brought Holliday home and gave the Cardinals the upper hand.
The Nationals had an opportunity to tie the game in the eighth. Denard Span reached on an infield single to lead off and Bryce Harper was walked with one out. Adam LaRoche grounded out but was able to advance the runners, but Desmond struck out against Trevor Rosenthal.
Mujica needed just 10 pitches in the ninth to end the game.
Cardinals infielder Matt Adams was scratched from the starting lineup due to a sore right oblique ... Haren entered the game 4-0 with a 3.65 ERA in five starts against the Cardinals ... Washington's Kurt Suzuki had a stolen base and was walked twice ... Both Miller and Haren threw 98 pitches in their outings.