A controversial first-half penalty awarded to and converted by Robbie Brady meant Hull consolidated their encouraging start to the season by taking all three points against a West Ham side that has failed to score in three away games.
Jake Livermore also hit the post for Hull, and both sides had efforts cleared off the line in a flawed but open game during which referee Kevin Friend regularly bewildered and at times infuriated both sets of fans.
For the Hammers, however, the situation is becoming worrying, as their manager, Sam Allardyce, acknowledged. "The referee gave two really poor decisions, but we still should have got something out of the game," he said. "It's happened at Newcastle, Southampton and now here, and it's a massive problem for the players in terms of their responsibility to be more clinical in front of goal.
"But Brady simulated, he bought the penalty after a slight contact when the ball was going nowhere near him or the goal, and in the second half Livermore put his arm out and knocked the ball for a corner. So it's our responsibility for not taking our chances, but the referee's for us losing the game."
Although his attacking options remain curtailed by Andy Carroll's foot injury, and Joe Cole is still a week away from fitness, Allardyce had resisted the temptation to recall Stewart Downing and Ricardo Vaz Tê, though both came on as second-half substitutes. Instead the misfiring Modibo Maïga retained his place up front, which with Steve Bruce keeping faith with Danny Graham, meant the two out-and-out strikers on the field had yet to score this season.
The surprise when, early in the first half, Friend pointed to the spot after Brady went down after feeling Joey O'Brien's arm in his back was universal. Brady sent Jussi Jaaskelainen the wrong way to put Hull ahead, and the sense that the Hammers' luck was out increased when James Tomkins's header beat the Hull goalkeeper, Allan McGregor, but was cleared off the line by Ahmed Elmohamady. The new Hawk-Eye goalline technology confirmed the ball had not fully crossed the line.
Mark Noble then hammered a volley a foot wide, but Hull were also unfortunate, Curtis Davies had his header kicked off the line and on to the bar by Maïga before going behind.
The game was remarkably open, and remained so after the break. Sone Aluko put the ball in the net from an offside position, and Maïga stung McGregor's palms from outside the area before being replaced on the hour by Mladen Petric. Soon afterwards Allardyce brought on Downing and Vaz Tê, but not before Livermore had hit the post with a low drive from the edge of the penalty area.
Livermore was also the central figure in the game's final critical incident, the ball clearly striking his elbow in his own penalty area. This time Friend chose not to award a penalty.
With Hull now in seventh, Bruce was prepared to accept "the big decisions" had gone their way. "On the other hand we created the better chances, their goalkeeper had to make more saves than mine, and we hit the post and the bar," he said.
"I've seen the alleged handball, and I don't think you can say whether it was deliberate, and whether the penalty is soft, maybe, but make no mistake, the better side won on the day."
Off the field, opposition to the extraordinary plan by the Hull City owner, Assem Allam, to dispense with 110 years of tradition and rename the club has solidified. A meeting of various supporters' organisations resulted in the formation of a single action group with the sole aim of opposing Allam's intention to rebrand the club as Hull Tigers.