Dale’s unbeaten record away from home in Sky Bet League One came to an end at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
A brace from Josh Maja and a penalty from Lynden Gooch saw the hosts go into the break 3-0 up, despite a promising start to the game from Dale.
Gooch added another after the break, before Matty Done grabbed a consolation goal after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Keith Hill named an unchanged starting eleven and substitute’s bench for the game, following last weekend’s 3-0 victory over Gillingham.
Dale started the game well and were arguably the better side in the opening half an hour, as Calvin Andrew saw a header from a Sam Hart free-kick deflected over the crossbar, before Hill’s men created a great chance to break the deadlock.
Ian Henderson, the hat-trick hero from last week, stayed onside well to pick up a ball forward and lay it off to Aaron Wilbraham. The experienced striker took a touch inside, but curled his effort off target from the edge of the area.
The home side built up a head of steam towards the end of the first-half and broke the deadlock in the 37th minute. Chris Maguire’s cross from the left found Maja unmarked, who headed home from close range.
The Black Cats doubled the lead four minutes later from the penalty spot. After Ollie Rathbone had brought down Gooch on the right of the area, the same player stepped up and fired a powerful penalty out of the reach of Josh Lillis.
Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin produced a fine save to deny Hart’s powerful effort after Callum Camps lay-off from a free-kick, as Dale looked to half the deficit before half-time.
However, it was the hosts who grabbed another on the stroke of the interval. Denver Hume’s ball from the left fell for Maja, who took a touch before firing under Lillis for his second of the game.
The final chance of the half did fall Dale’s way, when Andrew’s looping header from Joe Rafferty’s cross dropped just the wrong side of the post.
Dale started the second period well, with Henderson nodding wide after a corner had been turned back in by Wilbraham, before McLaughlin produced two superb stops to deny Andrew and Henderson.
Andrew was the first to be denied when his powerful effort six-yards was beaten away, before the Sunderland goalkeeper stretched a hand out to brilliantly flick Henderson’s header over the bar.
Hume and Lee Cattermole both fired well off target, but Gooch grabbed his second and Sunderland’s fourth when he cut inside onto his left foot and curled a low effort beyond Lillis to the far post.
Hart saw a strike from distance held by McLaughlin, shortly before Dale grabbed a deserved goal.
Harrison McGahey played a ball down the line for substitute Jordan Williams, who beat his man to the ball and pulled the ball back for fellow sub Done to slot home with his right foot, with what proved to be a consolation goal for Dale.