It was an evening to forget for Shane Duffy as his two first half own goals condemned Rovers to a third consecutive league defeat.
The Republic of Ireland international found the back of his own net twice in quick succession to give the Bluebirds the upper hand at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Shell-shocked, the home side could have had more as Joe Ralls and Anthony Pilkington went close to putting the game beyond Rovers in a one-sided first half.
But in the second period the visitors showed good determination, deservedly pulling a goal back 13 minutes from time when Danny Graham poked home.
However with Rovers pressing deep into injury-time for an equaliser frustration boiled over for Duffy as he received his marching orders for a second booking after kicking the ball away.
The Wednesday night match saw Rovers make three changes from the side that faced Wigan Athletic at the weekend.
Stephen Hendrie was handed his first league start for the club, replacing the injured Adam Henley, whilst Craig Conway and Hope Akpan were preferred to Liam Feeney and Darragh Lenihan who both dropped to the bench.
The hosts make two changes from Saturday with Sean Morrison and Aron Gunnarsson in for Jazz Richards and Frederic Gounongbe.
It was a steady start for Rovers in the Welsh capital, with the visitors having the first chance of note inside the opening four minutes.
It was from nothing that Anthony Stokes let fly from fully 40-yards out, and for a moment it looked like the ball would catch out keeper David Marshall, but the Cardiff captain got back just in time to claim high above his head.
But despite not being under any undue pressure, Rovers quickly found themselves two gaols down with Shane Duffy twice finding the back of his own net in the space of six minutes.
On 14 Declan John took advantage of the space afforded to him by racing in on goal from the left flank. The wing-back fired past Jason Steele only to see the ball strike the foot of the post, but Duffy inexplicably side-footed home the rebound.
Then the home side were handed a soft free-kick on the right after Gordon Greer was adjudged to have fouled Anthony Pilkington.
Peter Whittingham sent the dead ball into the box, and defender Duffy saw the ball skim off his head and into the back of the net.
With Rovers rocking, the Bluebirds could have stretched their advantage further. Joe Ralls saw an effort deflected wide, before Bruno Ecuele Manga headed the resulting corner into the side netting.
Just like Wigan and Norwich before them, Cardiff were picking off the Rovers defence at will. On the half hour Pilkington beat the offside trap to race in on goal, but thankfully he scuffed his shot wide of the far post.
Rovers saw more of the ball as the first half drew to a close, but rarely was the Bluebirds goal threatened as once again the Lancashire club went in at the break with plenty to do.
Pilkington saw a half-volley flash wide in the early moments of the second half, but with Rovers offering little in the attacking third it wasn't a surprise when a change was made just past the hour mark as Sam Gallagher replaced Stokes.
However it was Bluebirds sub Kadeem Harris who caught the eye with a barnstorming run from the right, taking the ball past two he cut inside to shoot, the ball looping off Duffy and wide of goal.
Then at the other end a Jack Byrne ball into the box found Duffy on the stretch, but it was a difficult chance for the Irishman as couldn't keep his effort down.
But 13 minutes from time Rovers reduced arrears with a goal out of nothing.
Jason Steele sent a goal-kick long upfield, Gallagher did well to flick the ball on and Danny Graham out-muscled his marker to get in on goal, his shot deflecting past the wrong-footed Marshall and into the corner of the net for the forward's first of the season.
Then as the home side showed signs of nerves Jason Lowe sent a ball deep into the area, Gallagher again won the ball in the air, Graham attacked but couldn't connect in front of goal.
But Rovers were unable to build up a meaningful head of steam as the Bluebirds' best method of defence was attack.
Steele saved well to keep a header from Morrison out, before showing good hands to claim a Ralls effort from distance.
Duffy stayed forward in the five additional minutes at the end of the game, making a nuisance of himself as Gallagher nodded a centre wide. But as they pressed late into the night, Duffy's horrible night got worse as the Republic of Ireland international, already on a booking, kicked the ball away in frustration to receive a second yellow followed by the inevitable red.
CARDIFF: Marshall (c), Peltier (sub Harris 58 mins), Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Immers (sub Huws 88 mins), John, Ralls, Whittingham, Pilkington (sub Gounongbe 76 mins), Connolly, Gunnarsson.
Subs not used: Moore (GK), Noone, Zohore, Ajayi.
Goals: Duffy (OG) 14, 20 mins.
Booked: Harris 66 mins.
ROVERS: Steele, Lowe (c), Duffy, Greer, Hendrie, Marshall (sub Feeney 88 mins), Akpan (sub Lenihan 84 mins), Byrne, Conway, Stokes (sub Gallagher 62 mins), Graham.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Guthrie, Mahoney, Wharton.
Goals: Graham 77 mins.
Booked: Duffy 63 mins, Akpan 71 mins.