Midfielder Ben Watson scored the only goal as Wigan wasted a host of chances before beating struggling Hull 1-0 at the JJB Stadium.
It appeared the Latics were heading for their seventh blank in 10 Barclays Premier League matches after Mido and Hugo Rodallega had twice each squandered chances.
However, Watson, signed from Crystal Palace in January, scored his second goal in a week with a looping 84th-minute volley.
It ended Wigan's run of back-to-back goalless home games and re-ignited hopes of qualifying for Europe next season as they moved up to seventh.
The pattern of play was established in the second minute when Charles N'Zogbia's long-range cross-shot had Matt Duke back-pedalling - and he only just managed to tip the ball over with the help of the bar and post.
Watson also forced Duke into a low save with a 25-yard shot in the 12th minute. Mido was next to squander a chance after Rodallega and Paul Scharner, making his 100th Premier League appearance, had exchanged quick passes to bypass the Hull midfield.
Having spent long periods with little to do, Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland had to be alert to tip over Manucho's flashed header from Dean Marney's 50th-minute corner.
Yet another chance went begging when Watson drilled a shot into the side-netting from the left corner of the penalty area - before substitute Amr Zaki rose highest in a crowd to head Daniel De Ridder's cross against the foot of a post with Duke beaten.
But the goal finally came in the 84th minute, partly thanks to a mistake from Duke.
The goalkeeper's weak punch did not get out of the penalty area - and when the ball dropped Watson looped a volley over Duke and in at the far post, despite Kilbane's best efforts to keep it out.
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