The St. Louis Cardinals will live to fight another day thanks in large part to first baseman Albert Pujols, whose two-out, three-run home run lifted them over the Astros 5-4 in Game 5 of the NLCS.

The Astros were one strike away from advancing to their first World Series in franchise history, when reliever Brad Lidge ran the count to 1-2 against David Eckstein, when Eckstein hit a single. Jim Edmonds was up next and walked. Then Pujols stepped to the plate and blasted an 0-1 pitch off the brick façade in left field to give the Cardinals the lead.

In the bottom of the ninth, Jason Isringhausen put the Astros down in order to get the win and force Game 6.

Earlier in the game Mark Grudzielanek lifted St. Louis to a 2-1 lead with a two-run single in the third inning. It stayed 2-1 until the seventh when Lance Berkman blasted a three-run homer off Cardinals’ starter Chris Carpenter to give Houston the lead.

The series now moves back to St. Louis for Game 6 on Wednesday and if necessary, Game 7 on Thursday. Wednesday’s starters for Game six will be Mark Mulder for St. Louis and Roy Oswalt for Houston. Matt Morris will go for the Cardinals in Game 7 and Roger Clemens will start for the Astros.