The opener came just five minutes in as Fletcher did well to control a throw in, dribble into a crossing position before lofting it to the back post for Connor Wickham to head home.
Stoke equalised only 10 minutes later when Billy Jones was caught offside and the quick costless kick saw Victor Moses race down the now costless left side of the pitch. Lee Cattermole sold himself and Moses put Adam through to finish clinically.
An entertaining start got better for the hosts 22 minutes in, when a short corner from Sebastian Larsson saw Jordi Gomez put in a superb cross and Fletcher rose highest to glance the ball past Asmir Begovic.
The visitors replied when an Adam corner found Shawcross who headed into the side netting – much to the despair of the travelling supporters who thought it was in.
Will Buckley’s tricky cross looked like it could have been going in but Begovic produced a smart save to push it over.
Peter Crouch was then denied twice by an excellent Vito Mannone before half-time.
The second half started in open fashion without either side really testing the keepers, Steven N’Zonzi fired wide from 25 yards. A similar outcome occurred when an Adam costlesskick was headed out by Wickham, the ball fell to Bardsley who blasted over
Sunderland’s third goal came when substitute Adam Johnson ran up the pitch on the counter, he laid it to Wickham, who surged past the Stoke defenders tapped the ball past an on-rushing Begovic and Fletcher rifled in to seal the game.
Moroccan Oussama Assaidi tested Mannone late on who got down well and apart from some late pressure that was it from the Potters.
Gus Poyet’s side leap up to 11th while the visitors, who had the second best defence in the league before today, drop to 15th.