Lampard scored for the third successive match since his latest recall, although he knew little about a goal which owed everything to a superb Fernando Torres volley that smashed against the crossbar and back off his team-mate.
Torres also saw two strong penalty claims turned down in what was one of his best displays in a Chelsea shirt, Nicklas Bendtner had one rejected at the other end and James McClean missed an open goal that might have snatched a point for the visitors.
Indeed, the watching Gary Cahill would have fancied his chances of breaking into the Chelsea defence when he finally completes his protracted move from Bolton as the hosts somehow kept a rare clean sheet.
That cut the gap to leaders Manchester City to eight points, while providing a setback for the Sunderland revival under Martin O'Neill.
The Wearsiders were first to threaten, with Stephane Sessegnon running through non-existent tackling before Jose Bosingwa prevented McClean tapping home in the fourth minute....