Jordan Henderson opened his season's account with the only goal of the game as Sunderland sent West Ham back to the foot of the Barclays Premier League.
The England international turned home Asamoah Gyan's 34th-minute cross to claim all three points and end the Hammers' recent revival.
Carlton Cole went close to cancelling out the lead four minutes after the break and Victor Obinna hit the post 11 minutes from time, but Steve Bruce's men held out with few scares to claim the points.
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