Cruz, jumping on the first pitch from reliever Chad Gaudin, hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Rangers a 6-5 victory over the Yankees at the Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rangers -- after being down, 4-1, in the third inning -- trailed, 5-4, going into the bottom of the eighth before Cruz tied the game with another first-pitch leadoff home run. This one came off reliever Joba Chamberlain.
"He just had a monster game," third baseman Michael Young said after the Rangers held on for the victory to maintain a 7 1/2-game lead in the American League West.
This one went 5 hours, 12 minutes -- the longest Rangers game of the season -- and it ended after the Oakland A's victory over the Red Sox on the West Coast.
The Rangers have won two of three against the Yankees at home this season, and both were walk-off wins. David Murphy's 10th-inning single gave Texas a 4-3 victory over New York on Aug. 10.
"It was a huge, huge win," said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was ejected from the game in the 10th inning after scoring three runs earlier in the game.
"This is probably the greatest game I've ever been associated with," said outfielder Julio Borbon, who set a career high with a four-RBI night. "We were able to compete and compete and compete. To pull it out was amazing."
Cruz has now hit three walk-off home runs on the season, leading the team in postgame beer showers. He had a two-run home run in the 10th to beat the A's, 3-1, on July 27 and a solo home run in the 11th to beat the Red Sox on Aug. 13.
Cruz is the first Rangers player to hit three walk-off home runs in a season.
"It's a special thing," Cruz said. "Every time you do it, it's great. Why change?"
"It's not like he snuck up on us," Chamberlain said. "None of their guys have. They've got a great lineup from top to bottom, and they can beat you in a lot of ways. They did it with the long ball today."
The Rangers, taking full advantage of September roster expansion, ended up using 11 pitchers after starter C.J. Wilson lasted just three innings. Scott Feldman earned the victory with a scoreless 13th, getting out of a bases-loaded jam by inducing Chad Moeller to fly out to center.
The 11 pitchers used set a new club and tied a Major League record. Darren Oliver was one of the Rangers' 11 pitchers, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings. The last time the Rangers used 10 pitchers in a game was on Sept. 1, 1993, against the Red Sox. Oliver was used that night for one batter in his Major League debut.
"A team effort," manager Ron Washington said. "Thank God we were in September and we had the people to keep the game in hand. A great team effort. Those guys battled, and they certainly deserved it."
The victory followed a 10-game road trip that ended with four games on the physically unforgiving turf in Toronto. The Rangers took a late-night flight home on Thursday night, got home at around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, then came back to battle the Yankees for 13 innings. The 19 pitchers used by both teams set an AL record.
"Exhausting," Young said. "We were all pretty much gassed. This one was a big one to win. Our bullpen did an incredible job, and then Nellie picked us up."
The Rangers won this one despite going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position but did not have a hit in those situations after putting together a four-run third inning against Wilson.
The Yankees finished with 13 hits while drawing nine walks. But they ended up leaving 18 runners on base.
"We had a lot of opportunities, and we missed a lot," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "We left a lot of guys on base. When you're playing good teams and you get those opportunities, you've got to get them in, and we weren't able to do that."
Wilson lasted just three innings, tying an Aug. 4 start against Seattle for his shortest outing of the year. The left-hander threw just 75 pitches, his fewest in an outing this season, while giving up four runs.
Wilson retired the side in order in the first but then allowed nine of the next 15 hitters to reach base on five singles, a double and three walks. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second by striking out Brett Gardner, his third strikeout of the inning, but the lefty gave up four runs in the third.
"He was just inconsistent and didn't make any adjustments," Washington said. "He was trying to stay on the outside part of the plate, and those guys got a whiff of that and laid off those pitches. He just didn't have command."