They started the trek off on the right foot, taking two of three in Cincinnati, and managed to steal a game in Pittsburgh as well.
Now, St. Louis is fighting to salvage what's left of the slate after dropping four straight games and scoring just one run since Monday night.
They'll do so behind their winningest pitcher this season, Kyle Lohse, who was the first on the Cards' starting staff to reach the 14-win mark.
Lohse hasn't tallied a loss since the middle of June, spanning 14 starts, and was responsible for the lone Cardinals win against the Pirates earlier this week.
He allowed just two runs on five hits, but had his night end early because of a 34-minute rain delay in Pittsburgh.
"We're playing against really good teams and teams we have to beat," Lohse said. "We're down that home stretch, and we have to start doing the things we need to do to get in the postseason. We are seeing some life, seeing some good things coming together."
The Cardinals will take on Nationals righty Jordan Zimmermann, who hasn't had the same kind luck as Lohse recently, recording just one win in August after going 4-0 in July.
Zimmerman failed to last six innings Sunday in Philadelphia for the third straight start. He took his second loss in three starts, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks in five innings.
"Nothing changed. I left a few balls up," Zimmermann said after the start.
Cardinals: Furcal might be done for season
Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal traveled back to St. Louis on Friday to undergo an MRI exam on his right elbow, after feeling a pop in it Thursday night, and discovered that he suffered damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
Furcal was placed on the disabled list Friday after he was unable to straighten his elbow Thursday. The club was worried that his season may be finished.
"It's sore right now," Furcal said after the game, in which he exited in the sixth inning. "It's bad. I cannot extend it. I hope it's nothing bad. I hope it's nothing crazy."
The club recalled infielder Pete Kozma from Triple-A Memphis to fill in the void left by Furcal.
Nationals: Davey backs Storen as closer
Nationals manager Davey Johnson reinforced his support for closer Drew Storen and said he considers Storen the closer, despite some ninth-inning action going to Tyler Clippard this season.
"It's hard to get off Clip. He is almost perfect," Johnson said. "But I don't have to abuse Clip at this point. I like where Storen has been at the last two or three times out. So I think he is all the way back, obviously."
Storen has tossed scoreless innings in 18 of his past 20 appearances after missing the first half of the season with bone chips in his right elbow.
"Now with my stuff back, I'm starting to pitch to the situation," Storen said.
The Nationals have allowed the fewest runs (464) in MLB.
The Cardinals have three batters in the top 10 in the NL in batting (Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, David Freese) and St. Louis leads the NL in batting (.275) and runs scored (633).