Senegalese striker Demba Ba scored his fourth goal in three matches for West Ham here on Saturday as they coasted to an impressive 3-0 win over Stoke City in their Premier League clash.
Ba's goal along with Manuel da Costa and a second-half one from the outstanding Thomas Hitzlsperger saw the Hammers strike a psychological blow a week away from the two sides FA Cup quarter-final.
Victory also saw the Hammers move out of the bottom three as they made it a return of 11 points from the last 18 and are fourth from bottom a point ahead of League Cup winners Birmingham, who suffered a 3-1 defeat by West Brom earlier on Saturday.
Stoke, who pulled out of a deal to sign Ba after a medical during the January transfer window, will be looking anxiously at the relegation battle as defeat - a record sixth successive away Premier League loss - sees them lying in 12th, but only four points clear of Birmingham, who have two games in hand.
The hosts pretty much had the points in the bag by half-time with two goals in 10 minutes in the middle of the first-half.
Ba - who earlier this week was moved to dismiss claims that he had a bad attitude as claimed by his former coach at Hoffenheim - struck in the 21st minute as he shot sweetly home from Mark Noble's pass.
The Hammers added to Stoke's challenge eight minutes later as da Costa headed past Amir Begovic in the Stoke goal from German international midfielder Hitzlsperger's freekick.
West Ham's fine form of late has had much to do with the return to fitness of Hitzlsperger, who made a belated debut for the club less than a fortnight ago after being injured since he signed last June. The German formed a superb partnership with Scott Parker and they dominated the midfield battle here.
Begovic was far the busiest of the goalkeepers and saved smartly twice in a matter of minutes in the second-half from Carlton Cole - who was looking to celebrate his 150th start for the club with a goal.
Hitzlsperger got a deserved goal for himself and the Hammers third seven minutes from time as his shot from inside the box beat Begovic and completed a comfortable victory.