WASHINGTON - Rookie starting pitcher Shelby Miller won another game and catcher Yadier Molina drove in the game-winning run in the sixth as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 on Monday before an announced crowd of 27,263 on a chilly evening.
Edward Mujica came in from the St. Louis bullpen in the last of the ninth and retired the side in order.
The Cardinals (11-8), in a rematch of last year's National League playoffs, won the first game of the series, while the Nationals (10-9) lost their fourth game in a row at home and third time in the last four outings. Miller (3-1) got the win while Washington starter Dan Haren fell to 1-3 after giving up three earned runs and six hits while throwing 98 pitches in five innings plus four batters.
The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth against Haren as Molina hit a single to right that scored Matt Holliday, who had been hit by a pitch and moved to second on Carlos Beltran's single.
After Molina's hit, David Freese singled to load the bases with no outs. That was the end of the night for Haren, who was replaced by Craig Stammen.
The right-handed reliever got Jon Jay to hit into a double play, with first baseman Adam LaRoche throwing home to force out Beltran before catcher Kurt Suzuki fired to LaRoche to retire Jay for the second out. After an intentional walk to Pete Kozman, Stammen fanned Miller for the final out of the inning.
Miller allowed just four hits and two runs with eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. He was replaced with runners on first and second with two outs in the last of the seventh by Joe Kelly. Kelly retired pinch-hitter Chad Tracy on a broken-bat flair to short center that Jay caught while sliding toward the infield to preserve the 3-2 lead.
Trevor Rosenthal came on to pitch the last of the eighth for the Cardinals and got Ian Desmond to strike out looking at a 98 miles-per-hour fastball to end a threat with runners on second and third.
Washington reliever Drew Storen, the victim of the ninth-inning comeback by the Cardinals in the playoffs last October, came on to pitch the top of the ninth with St. Louis ahead 3-2.
The first batter Storen faced was Kozma, the Game 5 hero last October. Kozma struck out looking on an 84 miles-per-hour curve from Storen, who got the next two batters to end the inning.
Washington tied the game at 2 in the fourth inning as rookie third baseman Anthony Rendon got his first Major League hit, a double to right-center that scored Desmond.
Washington had made it 2-1 in the fourth against Miller as Desmond hit a double to right-center that scored Jayson Werth. Desmond entered the game with 11 extra-base hits, which tied for the Major League lead among middle infielders.
The Cardinals had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the third against Haren on a two-out double by Allen Craig that Washington center fielder Denard Span almost got a glove on against the padded wall in left-center.
It was the first game between the teams since the Cardinals came back to beat the Nationals 9-7 in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) last October as Storen could not hold a ninth-inning lead for the Nats in Washington.
"You don't forget anything like that, especially the last game," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
Kozma got the game-winning hit in Game 5 last October, and Monday he singled in the second with one out. He took second on a sacrifice bunt by Miller. Matt Carpenter drew a walk and then Craig hit his double to center.
Haren, who entered the game with an ERA of 8.10 in his first three starts, was drafted by the Cardinals out of Pepperdine in 2001. Miller, who had an ERA of 1.96 at game time, had five strikeouts in the first three innings.
The original Cardinals' lineup had Craig in right field and Matt Adams at first. But Beltran started in right with Craig moving to right.
Adams experienced some discomfort in his right side in early workouts, according to manager Mike Matheny, and began the game on the bench. Adams entered the game with a batting average of .524.
NOTES: Rendon made his first start at home for the Nationals. The third baseman was called up from Double-A Harrisburg after Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Rendon was hitless in four at bats in his first big league game Sunday at the Mets. "He is a young player with high promise. He had a great spring," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. Rendon struck out in the second in his first Nationals Park at-bat ... Washington closer Rafael Soriano was placed on paternity leave and was not with the team after his wife gave birth to a boy ... A moment of silence was held for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and "Sweet Caroline" was played in the third inning as a tribute to Boston.