The hosts saw Richard Stearman receive his marching orders after picking up a second yellow as he conceded a penalty in first half stoppage time and Hendry Thomas restored parity when he was sent for an early bath midway through the second half, also for a second yellow.
The scoresheet showed similarities to Wigan’s last outing with both James McCarthy, making his first Premier League start, and Charles N’Zogbia finding the back of the net for Roberto Martinez’ side.
McCarthy lined up in midfield alongside Mohamed Diame who returned to the side after recovering from injury.
Emmerson Boyce had to made do with a seat on the bench as he made way for new signing Gary Caldwell who had put pen to paper on a 4½ year deal earlier in the week.
The former Celtic captain gave an inspired performance, looking solid as a rock in the heart of defence, as Wigan kept a clean sheet away from home for the first time since the season’s opener at Villa Park.
The win was also Wigan’s first ever at Molineux at the fourth attempt and bodes well for the second half of the season as the race to avoid relegation gathers momentum with Latics pulling themselves that bit further from the foot of the table.
Wigan’s goals both came in the second half but they should have seen themselves leading at half time had Hugo Rodallega not failed to find the back of the net from the penalty spot for the second time in just over a month.
Criticism of the Colombian could well be deemed harsh as Wolves’ American keeper Marcus Hahnemann pulled off a string of superb saves to foil Wigan with his shut out of Rodallega’s spot kick just one of them.
In fact his intuitive save at Rodallega’s feet on the edge of the box as the game drew to a close ultimately kept the Mick McCarthy’s side from dropping into the bottom three.
The game started brightly with both sides pressing but failing to find a way through.
The first booking of the afternoon arrived after 12 minutes with Richard Stearman cautioned for a late challenge on Paul Scarner down the wing with referee Howard Webb reaching for his pocket a minute late to add Hendry Thomas to the list for a foul on Stephen Ward on the opposite flank.
The first real opportunity of the game presented itself to Charles N’Zogbia in the 15th minute but Hahnemann turned the ball behind for a corner.
At the other end of the pitch Sylvan Ebanks-Blake wasted a golden opportunity after being played in by Serbian midfielder Nenad Milijas – his effort sent wide of the far post from seven yards out.
The former Manchester United trainee knock in 25 goals last season as Wolves secured the Championship title but to date as only hit the target on one occasion this season and that from the spot.
His current drought is indicative of his side’s season so far with only 17 goals to their credit – the Premier League’s lowest tally.
James McCarthy was impressive in midfield for Wigan and was almost rewarded for his efforts in the 26th minute after Jody Craddock failed to clear his lines but the 19-year-old’s first time shot found the side netting.
Ebanks-Blake headed wide from a left wing cross just before the half hour mark and Rodallega, a constant threat for Wigan, was denied a goalscoring opportunity moments later with Michael Mancienne and Jody Craddock combining to snub out the danger.
Rodallega then got the better of on loan Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne only for Hahnemann at his best to push the ball behind for a Wigan corner and then the Wigan striker saw another effort crash against the upright with the former Reading keeper well beaten.
The main talking point of the first half came right at the end when Richard Stearman stupidly tugged on James McCarthy’s shirt to bring down the Scot in the penalty area with the ball seemingly going out.
The referee had no choice but to award a penalty and also hand a second yellow card to the Wolves defender who had already earned a one match suspension with his first caution for amassing five booking and will now miss a further game for the red.
Up stepped Hugo Rodallega with the task of converting from 12 yards out but Hahnemann guessed correctly and dove to his right to block his spot kick and Paul Scharner then arrived on the scene to pounce on the loose ball only to send the ball wide of the far post from close range, injuring himself in the process.
Mick McCarthy makes a change during the break with Matt Jarvis making way for David Jones and shortly after the restart Roberto Martinez is forced into a substitution with Scharner unable to continue and Jordi Gomez enters the fray in his place.
Latics appeared to be making the most of their numerical advantage in the opening exchanges with N’Zogbia and Rodallega the main culprits as the visitors pushed for an opening but it took until the 60th minute for that to arrive.
N’Zogbia brushed aside Stephen Ward down the right before teeing up Rodallega who was once again denied by Hahnemann but the Reading keeper’s luck ran out when James McCarthy latched onto the rebound to fire home his second goal in as many games.
The home side were really up against it but were given a glimmer of hope when Wigan were themselves reduced to 10 men with just over 20 minutes of normal time remaining.
Hendry Thomas having already collected his 8th yellow card of the current campaign inside the opening 15 minutes went charging in with yet another reckless challenge on Stephen Ward to earn himself a premature walk down the tunnel.
Wolves introduce Chris Iwelumo to the game with the largely ineffective Ebanks-Blake the player making way for the Scotland international as McCarthy looks for a different option in front of goal.
However it’s Wigan who draw next blood with N’Zogbia easing past Jody Craddock to create himself space in the area before slotting a low ball beyond the reach of the Reading keeper for his sixth goal of the season.
Iwelumo tested Kirkland which results in a corner for Wolves but any threat posed by the home side is largely ineffective as the game moves further away from them and the scoreline could well have been more convincing had Rodallega done better in stoppage time after racing clear for a one-on-one with Hahnemann.
The result lifts Wigan up to 13th in the table and a little step closer to securing their top flight status for a sixth successive season.