Three innings later, he ended it with a real one.
After his outfield deke prevented Detroit's Johnny Damon from scoring the winning run in the 11th inning, Cruz's two-run homer in the 14th gave the Rangers an 8-6 victory in a game marred by injuries.
Detroit lost its sixth straight game despite two home runs from Miguel Cabrera.
"It was a long night for everyone," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We had a couple opportunities to win the game, but we didn't get it done."
The win snapped Texas' 11-game losing streak at Comerica Park, but it took them until 11:58 p.m. to do it.
"It was starting to rain and I was getting hungry," Cruz joked after the game. "It was a great feeling to see that ball go over the fence, especially since we hadn't scored since the seventh."
The game had a scary moment in the sixth inning when Rangers reliever Dustin Nippert was hit in the head by Austin Jackson's line drive. The ball landed in left field for a double as Texas players, coaches and trainers raced toward the mound. Nippert quickly sat up and walked off the field under his own power, and after a precautionary check at a nearby hospital, he was back in the team hotel before the game ended.
"We'll probably give him a couple days off, just because you want to be careful when a guy gets hit in the head, but he's OK," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It looked a lot worse than it actually was."
Detroit lost third baseman Brandon Inge for 4-6 weeks after he broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Scott Feldman in the third inning. The Tigers are expected to make a roster move on Tuesday.
The Rangers couldn't score with the bases loaded in the ninth, and Matt Harrison (2-1) got out of a jam in the bottom of the 11th thanks to some creativity by Cruz.
With one out and runners on first and second, Brennan Boesch lined a single to right-center that appeared certain to score the speedy Damon and end the game.
However, Cruz acted like he was going to catch the ball, and fooled Damon into hesitating halfway between second and third. After the ball dropped, Damon had to stop at third, and Harrison got Carlos Guillen to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Cruz said that he often tries the deke, but it rarely works, especially against a player the caliber of Damon.
"Boesch hit the ball off the end of the bat, and when I looked up, it was in the lights," Damon said. "I just couldn't get a read on it. That's the one thing that you don't want to happen in a situation like that, but I made the mistake."
In the 12th, the Rangers put runners on the corners with two outs, but Julio Borbon flied out to end the inning.
Cruz finally ended it with the shot just inside the right-field pole off Enrique Gonzalez (0-1) in the 14th.
Harrison threw four shutout innings of relief and Neftali Feliz pitched a rainy 14th for his 25th save.
"Matt Harrison did exactly what we badly needed him to do," Washington said. "He gave us four innings, and he got through the heart of their order a couple times. Believe me, that's not easy with guys like Damon, Cabrera and Magglio [Ordonez]."
Texas took a 2-0 lead on Ian Kinsler's first-inning homer, but the Tigers got an RBI single from Cabrera in the bottom of the inning before tying the game in the second on Alex Avila's run-scoring base hit.
The Rangers regained control with a three-run third. After Kinsler's sacrifice fly, Josh Hamilton hit an RBI single that appeared to tear through the webbing of Cabrera's glove at first, and Cruz's base hit gave Texas a 5-2 lead.
Cabrera's 23rd homer pulled the Tigers within 5-3 in the third. Ordonez and Cabrera then tied the game with back-to-back homers to start the fifth.
Texas went back in front on Cruz's bad-hop RBI single in the seventh, but the Tigers tied the game in the eighth on Damon's run-scoring single.
Both starters allowed five runs -- Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman in 5 1/3 innings and Feldman in six.
Washington watched the last nine innings from the clubhouse after being ejected by home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck after Feldman's first two pitches of the fifth inning were called balls. ... Cabrera drew another cheer from the crowd in the sixth inning when he made a barehanded catch of Ramon Santiago's soft liner into the Tigers dugout. ... Rangers C Matt Treanor played for just the third time at Comerica Park, despite spending 2009 with Detroit. Treanor was limited to four games last season by a hip injury and only played once at home.