"There have been times when we haven't played well enough," said manager Tony La Russa, "but there's never been a time when we didn't have the heart to play."
Pujols is 2-for-2 with a walk and four runs batted in three pinch-hitting appearances the last few days.
Meanwhile, Ankiel has had six hits in his last two games after a 7-for-51 stretch he had following a New York newspaper report that he had accepted a shipment of human growth hormone three years ago.
"It was great to see that (hit) with all the things he has gone through the last couple of weeks," said Pujols. "It couldn't happen to a better person than him."
It's no mystery that the Cardinals are in the market for at least two more starting pitchers for next season. But two right under their thumb have provided more than reasonable facsimiles the last two nights.
CARDINALS 4, HOUSTON 3: RF Rick Ankiel's two-run triple with nobody out in the ninth capped a three-run rally for the Cardinals, who finished 43-38 at home this year. With one trip left, they are 30-44 on the road. 1B Albert Pujols is one RBI shy of knocking in 100 for the seventh straight season after delivering a pinch single in the ninth inning.