Birmingham City boss Wayne Rooney's winless start to his Blues reign reached a new low on Wearside as the visitors suffered a fourth loss in the five games since he took charge.
Tony Mowbray's side proved too strong as Birmingham were soundly punished for poor defending.
Blues old boy Jobe Bellingham, meeting the side he left in the summer for the first time, nonchalantly put Sunderland ahead on 17 minutes with his first goal in three months.
Koji Miyoshi levelled nicely for Blues on the half hour, but Sunderland went on to win it with two second-half strikes.
Dion Sanderson lucklessly put through his own net on 57 minutes before Sunderland substitute Adil Aouchiche clinched it from close range - just two minutes after coming on to lift the hosts into the top six, ahead of the rest of Saturday's afternoon fixtures.
Rooney's Blues have dropped to 15th, having picked up just one point from a possible 15 - and he now frustratingly has to wait another fortnight before he gets another chance to claim his first victory.
This latest defeat marked a month to the day since Rooney came in to succeed the sacked John Eustace, at which point Blues were sixth in the Championship. And, once again, for all their efforts on the training ground, they were again undone by defensive indiscipline.
Despite being hampered by the loss of Dennis Cirkin to the recurrence of a hamstring issue in the pre-match warm-up, Sunderland made the brighter start.
They led when, from Jack Clarke's left-wing corner, Nazarii Rusyn's clever headed near-post flick-on wrong-footed the Blues defence and Bellingham almost lazily stuck out his right foot to steer the ball home - before barely celebrating his goal as it sunk in just what he had done.
Teenager Bellingham then came close to a second when his shot on the turn came back off the inside of the left post.
Blues did come close to an equaliser when, from Ollie Burke's low cross, Pierre Ekwah had to get back to clear off Jay Stansfield's toes but on the half hour the visitors were level.
Miyoshi threaded a ball down the inside-right channel for Stansfield, who got forced wide, but Sunderland failed to clear their lines. And, when the Blues top scorer steered a right foot pass back into Miyoshi's path, the Japan international neatly clipped home with his left in-step from 12 yards.
It looked like either side were capable of winning it at the break but the Blues defence were guilty of ball-watching for the Sunderland second on 57 minutes.
Trai Hume rose well beyond the far post to head back across the box a ball that looked to be on its way out.
Blues keeper John Ruddy was bypassed by the loop of the header and defenders Sanderson and Emmanuel Aiwu both went to in challenge the hungry Nectarios Triantis but Aiwu's attempt to hook clear hit the unwitting Sanderson's arm and went in.
Ruddy then kept out Daniel Neil's low near-post shot but it was 3-1 when Clarke weaved his magic down the left to outfox Ethan Laird - and Aouchiche stole in between Aiwu and Drameh to score from close range.
Blues are scheduled to return to action after the international break with three games in a week - starting with a home date against bottom club Sheffield Wednesday on 25 November, followed by a midweek trip to Blackburn, then another seemingly winnable home game against Rotherham United on 2 December.
Mowbray's Sunderland face long trips to Plymouth and Millwall, either side of a midweek home date with Huddersfield Town.
Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray told BBC Radio Newcastle:
"We were so dominant for 30 minutes but, from being totally on top, when we could have been three or four up, we got a bit easy-osy and let them break on us. We need to learn from that.
"We try to do a lot of work on people arriving in the box - and hopefully we can get better at it and carry on scoring goals like that. We should be timing our runs better.
"I was very pleased with Nectarios Triantis. He was only thrown in two minutes before kick-off when Dennis Cirkin was injured in the warm-up.
"Ultimately it's Dennis' hamstring. He woke up this morning and said it felt fine but then he felt it in the warm-up. He will go for a scan on Sunday."
Birmingham City manager Wayne Rooney told BBC Radio WM:
"It could have gone either way. We caused them some big problems throughout the game and we got into some excellent positions. But when you get a chance you need to take those chances.
"The goals we conceded were really sloppy. The second one was the decisive one in the game and we lost concentration for the third.
"We know Sunderland play a lot of of short corners. We had warned the lads that we have to stay with our men. We didn't do that - and it cost us.
"The [international] break has come at a good time for us. The lads can all work at their fitness. They've all had their schedules. We have to focus on the next couple of weeks and make sure we come back stronger."