The home side took the lead with 13 minutes gone and it was former Bolton midfielder Kevin Nolan who did the damage, heading Cheick Tiote's driven cross past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Only a last-ditch tackle by full-back Marcos Alonso then denied Ryan Taylor - but on-loan Chelsea man Sturridge capped a lively first half by equalising seven minutes before the break.
A rare mistake from Tiote allowed Johan Elmander to find the striker, who shifted the ball on to his left foot before shooting into the bottom corner.
The momentum shifted significantly with 54 minutes gone when Taylor launched himself at Elmander and was dismissed by referee Chris Foy, who had little choice but to produce the red card.
Bolton instantly sensed an opportunity and committed more men to the search for a winner, and it took a priceless goal-line clearance from Nolan to keep out Martin Petrov's effort five minutes later.