The home run allowed the Rangers to win their fourth in five games since the All-Star break, snap an 11-game losing streak at Comerica Park and up their lead to five games over the Angels in the American League West.
Manager Ron Washington was kicked out of the game in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes, reliever Dustin Nippert had to leave the game in the sixth inning when he took a frightening line drive off the side of his head, and the Tigers lost third baseman Brandon Inge for 4-6 weeks after suffering a broken left hand when hit by a pitch from Scott Feldman in the third inning.
It was quite a tussle, but the hero of the night for the Rangers was reliever Matt Harrison, who pitched four scoreless innings and 80 pitches in relief to get the victory.
"I saw Harrison throw exactly what we needed," Washington said. "He did one heckuva job. It seemed like every time they had a threat, he had to go through the middle of the lineup and that's not easy. But he saved us."
The 11th inning was Harrison's biggest moment. Johnny Damon walked, Magglio Ordonez flied to right and Miguel Cabrera -- who had two home runs off Feldman -- drew a walk. That put runners on first and second with one out for Brennan Boesch, who hit a soft line drive into right field.
Cruz had no chance to catch it, but he put up his glove as if he might. Cruz does that a lot. Usually runners don't bite. This time Damon did, stopping at third rather than easily coming around for the winning run.
"I was joking with [outfield coach Gary Pettis]," Cruz said. "That never works, but tonight it finally worked in a game."
It did against one of the best baserunners in the game.
"Boesch took a full swing," Damon said. "He hit the ball off the end of the bat. When I looked up, the ball was in the lights some. He was dekeing me. I couldn't get a great read on it. I knew we were still in a pretty good situation to win the game right there. But the one thing that we didn't want to happen there, happened."
The bases were still loaded with one out and Harrison fell behind, 2-0, to Carlos Guillen. Then he threw a sinking fastball and Guillen hit it right at shortstop Elvis Andrus for an inning-ending double play.
"With it 2-0 and the bases loaded, he knew I had to throw a fastball," Harrison said. "He knew I wasn't going to risk a breaking ball and go 3-0. I just had to make sure I hit my spot. If I make a mistake, the game is over. But I found something inside me that allowed me to make pitches when I had to."
Harrison's four innings earned him his first victory as a reliever and Neftali Feliz ended up with his 25th save. The Rangers needed nine innings from the bullpen because Feldman could only go five. He had a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the third, but allowed three home runs in three innings -- two by Cabrera and one by Ordonez -- that made it 5-5.
"Not good," Feldman said. "I hate going out there and only throwing 80 pitches and only going five innings. But I wasn't getting the job done. Luckily, we had guys in the bullpen who did an unbelievable job."
The Rangers had 19 hits on the night -- including four by Josh Hamilton -- but only two for extra bases. Kinsler hit a two-run home run in the first and the Rangers didn't get another extra-base hit until Cruz went deep in the 14th. They were 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position, but still left 13 on base.
The Rangers got a break to take a 6-5 lead in the seventh. They had two on with one out when Cruz hit a double-play grounder right at shortstop Ramon Santiago. But the ball took the classic bad hop over Santiago's head and went into center field for a single. The Tigers were able to tie it in the eighth against reliever Alexi Ogando by taking advantage of third baseman Michael Young's throwing error.
Then it came down to which bullpen would blink first. Harrison made sure it was not the Rangers.
"I can't say enough about the job of the bullpen," Washington said. "They were on fumes, we were on fumes and Nelson pulled us out."