OAKLAND -- The unsung hero of Thursday's thrilling 11-inning, 3-2 victory over the Mariners was not Emil Brown.

Sure, the A's left fielder lined a fastball on a 1-2 count from Seattle's Cesar Jimenez just over the left-field wall to earn his first career walk-off homer.

Nor was the hero Jack Cust or Kurt Suzuki, both of whom hit homers in the ninth inning to tie the game at 2. If not for them, Brown never would have been given the extra-inning stage in the first place.

Rather, it was the man standing proudly in the dugout who received a big bear hug from Brown after the win.

Say hello to the real hero -- A's hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, who Brown said "prepared me more for that at-bat than I had ever been prepared for any other situation.

"Before I went up there, Ty told me everything the guy may do. And he did all of it."

That's what turned a game with an inauspicious beginning into the A's seventh walk-off win of the season.

"Strange game," manager Bob Geren said. "You don't usually get three runs on three homers. And we haven't had the best of luck with pinch-hitting, but for Suzuki to have a nice, short swing and drive that ball out gave us a chance to win the game."

Suzuki slugged his first career pinch-hit home run, on a 1-0 fastball from Brandon Morrow to left-center field with two outs.

"I came back to the dugout and got myself loose," said Suzuki, who began the day on the bench with Rob Bowen getting the starting nod behind the plate.

"Pinch-hitting is not an easy job to do. You just got to go up there with confidence. I wasn't trying to do too much in that situation. You have to wait for that fastball, and if you get it on the first strike, you don't want to miss it."

Suzuki's big blast came after back-to-back strikeouts by Brown and Carlos Gonzalez, which quieted A's fans a bit with their team still down 2-1. Cust had his shot earlier in the inning to right field -- his second in as many days and 17th on the season.

"There are a lot of good arms in that bullpen," Cust said. "You're obviously going to get a fastball at some point, though."

And after having a very Cust-like first three at-bats -- two walks and a strikeout -- he got the pitch he wanted from Morrow and did what he does when not walking or fanning at the plate.

The dinger was the first run of the game for the A's, who struggled against starter R.A. Dickey, as he threw into the eighth inning while allowing just four hits. The knuckleballer did just enough to steal Greg Smith's thunder. The A's starter threw six shutout innings of his own, but he got zero run support -- nothing new for him.

Smith left Thursday's game having received zero Oakland runs in seven of his 17 starts, and one run in another three outings.

"He's pitched great for us all year," Cust said. "It seems like he's always on the short end of a pitcher's duel."

That he was, but the A's claimed victory in the bullpen duel. Oakland used six pitchers in the game while Seattle relied on five. And while Santiago Casilla and Alan Embree each allowed a run, the ninth-inning homers let them off the hook and set the stage for Brown.

"I do tend to bear down more later in the game, because it's crunch time," Brown said.

Huston Street (2-2), who pitched the final two innings, was credited with the win. By day's end, Smith's short yet sweet outing was all but forgotten -- except by his teammates.

"[Smith's] doing everything he can to keep us in the game," Cust said. "It's too bad it wasn't his win, but it's a win."

The victory gave the A's a 3-1 series win over Seattle and a little extra boost going into Friday's set against the division-rival Angels.

"Today is history," Brown said with a smile, "and tomorrow's a mystery."