Cruz led off the 13th inning with a home run after connecting in the eighth to tie it as the Rangers beat the New York Yankees 6-5 on Friday night.
Cruz ripped the first pitch from Chad Gaudin (0-4) into the Rangers' bullpen to give Texas its second win over the Yankees in six games this season.
"I was just looking for something to drive in that situation," said Cruz, soaked from a beer shower by teammates following his third game-winning homer of the season. "I was just trying to be aggressive."
Cruz tied it at 5 when he led off the eighth with a towering first-pitch homer to left off Joba Chamberlain.
"It's not like he's knocking guys in from second, he's hitting solo homers, which isn't easy to do," Texas' Michael Young said.
It's been an up-and-down season for Cruz, who's trying to stay healthy after three different stints on the disabled list due to hamstring strains. Despite all the missed time, he has 19 homers and 70 RBI.
The teams combined to use an American League-record 19 pitchers, one shy of the major league mark set by the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies on Sept. 30, 2006.
The game, which lasted 5 hours, 12 minutes before a near-sellout crowd, was a possible playoff preview.
"We stood up there tonight, went toe-to-toe with those guys and got the win," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It was important for those guys in that clubhouse to know we're capable, especially after we were down 4-1."
Scott Feldman (7-10), the 11th Texas pitcher to tie a major league record, worked the 13th for the decision.
Texas maintained its 7½-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. The A's beat Boston 5-0.
The Yankees' lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East slipped to 1½ games. The Rays beat Toronto 9-8.
New York, which stranded 18 runners, loaded the bases with two outs in the 13th, but Chad Moeller flied to center. The Yankees had a runner on third with one out in the 12th after Moeller doubled into the right-field corner and advanced on Brett Gardner's sacrifice bunt.
"We left a lot of guys on base," Jeter said. "Good teams find a way to get those runs in."
There were plenty of regrets in the Yankees clubhouse, including Chamberlain, whose slider over the heart of the plate led to Cruz's tying homer in the eighth.
"It wasn't a good pitch. ... It's not like he [Cruz] snuck up on us," Chamberlain said. "He can beat you in a lot of ways. Their pitchers did their jobs. The sun will come up tomorrow and we'll have another opportunity to do our job."
Alex Rodriguez's two-run double keyed a four-run third for the Yankees, who'd won nine of their previous 12.
No. 9 hitter Julio Borbon had a career-high four RBI for the Rangers.
Yankees starter Javier Vazquez allowed four runs and six hits in five-plus innings.
The Rangers appeared to get a break in the second when Ian Kinsler attempted a steal of second base.
Francisco Cervelli's throw beat Kinsler, and replays showed Jeter tagging Kinsler on the wrist. Second base umpire Alfonso Marquez called Kinsler safe, prompting an argument from Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Kinsler later scored from third on Borbon's groundout to put Texas in front.
The Yankees struck back against C.J. Wilson in the third on Rodriguez's two-run double, and RBI singles from Marcus Thames and Cervelli.
Rodriguez had been 0 for 12 against Wilson, the most hitless at-bats against any pitcher in Rodriguez's 17-year career.
Wilson allowed four runs and six hits in three innings, his shortest outing of the season.
- The only other club to use 11 pitchers in a game was Seattle on Sept. 25, 1992 against Texas.
- Rangers SS Elvis Andrus returned after missing five games with a tight right hamstring.
- Texas OF Josh Hamilton, who leads the majors with a .361 batting average, was out for a sixth consecutive game due to a bruised right ribcage.
- Yankees C Jorge Posada did not catch for the second straight game because of post-concussion symptoms. But he pinch-hit in the 13th. Posada said he was ready to go back behind the plate, but Girardi is being cautious, saying Posada won't catch again until at least Sunday. Posada was struck in the mask with a foul tip Tuesday night against Baltimore.
- Girardi said LHP Andy Pettitte will make one more rehab start before rejoining the rotation. Pettitte has been on the 15-day DL since July 20 with a strained left groin.
- Reggie Jackson visited the Yankees' clubhouse before the game and watched some of the game from the owner's box with Rangers president Nolan Ryan.
- Kinsler was ejected in the 10th by home plate umpire Dale Scott for protesting a called third strike.