Goals from Mark Davies, Nigel Reo-Coker and Gretar Steinsson secured a vital three points for Bolton, who moved out of the relegation zone for the first time this season following the win.
But the defeat saw Liverpool squander an opportunity to close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea, and continued a miserable run of form for the Reds who have taken only six points from a possible 18 in their last six games.
Liverpool, whose lone goal came from Craig Bellamy, are now in seventh place, six points adrift of Chelsea.
Earlier, Fernando Torres' three-month goal-drought continued as Chelsea also stumbled in a 0-0 draw at Premier League newboys Norwich.
Chelsea enjoyed the better chances of a scrappy game but were left frustrated as £50 million striker Torres drew a blank yet again.
The draw left Chelsea in fourth place, five points behind third-placed Tottenham, who face leaders Manchester City at Eastlands on Sunday.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas later defended Torres, who has not scored for the club since October.
"He couldn't find the back of the net but we are not just looking for that," Villas-Boas said. "With a little bit more luck he will find the back of the net."
Elsewhere Saturday, Clint Dempsey struck a hat-trick as Fulham came from behind to defeat sixth-placed Newcastle 5-2 at Craven Cottage.
Danny Guthrie gave Newcastle the lead with a 25-yard thunderbolt just before half-time before Fulham came roaring back in the second half.
Danny Murphy levelled from the penalty spot after Davide Santon brought down Damien Duff and then two goals in six minutes from Dempsey made it 3-1.
Bobby Zamora then made it 4-1 from the penalty spot on 68 minutes as Newcastle's challenge unravelled.
Hatem Ben Arfa scored a consolation goal for Newcastle before Dempsey completed his hat-trick.
Queens Park Rangers moved out of the relegation zone after goals from Heidar Helguson, Akos Buzsaky and Tommy Smith gave new manager Mark Hughes the first league victory of his reign with a 3-1 win over bottom club Wigan.
Wigan had raised hopes of a fightback in the second half when Hugo Rodallega pulled one back to make it 2-1, before goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi pulled off a stunning penalty save for the Latics.
But QPR's third, scored by Smith nine minutes from time, killed the game off and means that Roberto Martinez's side are now four points adrift of safety.
Meanwhile, Blackburn battled to a 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park, David Goodwillie equalising for Rovers after Tim Cahill's first goal for 13 months gave Everton the lead on 24 minutes.
A dramatic finale at the Britannia Stadium saw West Bromwich Albion snatch a 2-1 win over Stoke.
Graham Dorrans' injury-time free-kick clinched the three points for the Baggies after Stoke had looked to have secured a draw with Cameron Jerome's 86th-minute equaliser.
West Brom had taken the lead through James Morrison on 35 minutes after Thomas Sorensen's blunder.
Sunderland's resurgence under Martin O'Neill gathered pace with a 2-0 win over Swansea, Stephane Sessegnon scoring the opener after working a clever one-two with James McClean on 14 minutes.
Substitute Craig Gardner wrapped up the points seven minutes after coming on as the Black Cats good form continued.
Elsewhere, Robbie Keane made a triumphant return for Aston Villa, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over 10-man Wolves in his first match back since completing a loan move from MLS team Los Angeles Galaxy.
Darren Bent put Villa ahead with a penalty on 11 minutes but Wolves fought back to go 2-1 up through Michael Kightly and David Edwards.
But Keane completed a fairytale return for Villa with a 51st minute equaliser before snatching the winner six minutes from time.