Middlesbrough's upturn in fortunes continued as Isaiah Jones and Emmanuel Latte Lath goals secured a third successive Championship victory and halted Cardiff City's winning run.
Jones claimed his first league goal in 11 months early in the second half, the winger tapping in after good work from Lukas Engel.
The opener came just after Cardiff's best effort, when Ollie Tanner beat Seny Dieng but saw his deflected shot crash to safety off the far post.
Middlesbrough put the result beyond doubt as Latte Lath burst forward on the counter-attack and kept his composure to skip inside Mahlon Romeo and beat Jak Alnwick.
Boro, who reached the play-offs last season, had been in the bottom three having failed to win in their first seven league games of this campaign.
But Michael Carrick's team are up to 16th after ending Cardiff's sequence of four straight second-tier victories and registering a first league clean sheet of the season.
The Bluebirds have made a promising start to life under Erol Bulut, though defeat sees them drop out of the play-off places on goal difference.
Cardiff had the best opportunity of a tight first half, when Kion Etete's flick sent Karlan Grant into space and the on-loan West Brom forward saw a low shot saved by Middlesbrough keeper Dieng.
A square pass to the unmarked Tanner may have been the better option for Grant, particularly on a night when Cardiff found clear openings hard to come by.
Chances were limited at the other end too, though Sam Greenwood almost made a mark in his first league start for Middlesbrough with a 20-yard effort which was pawed to safety by Alnwick.
Jones' clever footwork in the box then had Bulut worried for a moment, only for Dimitios Goutas' sliding block to end the danger.
Cardiff threatened first after the break when Perry Ng's cross reached Tanner on the opposite flank.
The former Lewes winger turned one way and the other before driving against the woodwork, with his shot appearing to take a minor deflection off Engel.
Four minutes later, Middlesbrough were ahead. Summer signing Engel has not had an easy start to life on Teesside, but seized his moment having been recalled at left-back in the absence of the injured Lewis O'Brien.
When Engel's initial cross was half-cleared, the Dane burst on to the loose ball and drilled in a low centre which Jones met with a simple finish.
Cardiff lacked inspiration in their search for an equaliser, with the Welsh side's cause not helped by a notable injury list which features the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Josh Bowler and Yakou Meite.
It was Middlesbrough who looked more menacing as the clock ticked down, though their second goal started from a cleared Cardiff corner.
Latte Lath ran from close to halfway before cutting inside, stumbling and then regaining his balance to steer in his third goal for the club.
It might have got even better for Middlesbrough in added time, but Marcus Forss' goalbound effort was cleared by Goutas.
Cardiff City: Alnwick, Ng, Goutas, McGuinness, Ralls, Siopis, Adams (Romeo 70’), Wintle (Robinson 66’), Tanner (Ugbo 60’), Grant, Etete (R. Colwill 70’). Subs: Runarsson, Romeo, Panzo, Rinomhota, Sawyers, Evans.