Palmeiras sink Robinho's Santos 4-3
Brazil striker Adriano, meanwhile, marked his return from being dropped by scoring the winner for Flamengo in their 1-0 victory over Vasco da Gama in a Carioca championship derby.
Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno also saved a penalty in each half.
Adriano, who missed Flamengo's Libertadores Cup win away to Caracas FC in mid-week, had a quiet game but converted the match-winning penalty seven minutes into the second half.
Veteran striker Dodo, back this season after a two-year doping ban, had two penalties saved by Bruno and was jeered by Vasco fans after his second failure.
"I'm the official (penalty) taker and I assumed my responsibility. Sadly, I was unlucky," he told reporters.
It was Adriano's first match since he played for Brazil in a London friendly against Ireland 12 days ago.
Having failed to turn up for training at Flamengo the next Friday, he was dropped amid reports of a resurgence of his well-catalogued personal problems.
Adriano was booked for celebrating his goal by lifting his jersey to reveal a t-shirt with the message "May God forgive those bad people".
Santos, with an uninspired Robinho, went two up with goals from midfielder Para and teenager Neymar at their Vila Belmiro home before Robert put Palmeiras level with a quick double just before the interval.
Playmaker Diego Souza then put Palmeiras, who are seventh in the Sao Paulo state championship, in front 12 minutes into the second half after keeper Felipe had touched defender Leo's header onto the bar.
Substitute Madson equalised in the 81st but two minutes later Neymar was shown a red card for a foul on Pierre and Robert completed his hat-trick with a shot from outside the box into Felipe's top corner in the final minute.
"Santos may have attacked more but I know it was Palmeiras who created the clearest chances...It was the best game under my command," said Palmeiras coach Antonio Carlos Zago, who took charge in mid-February.
Santos, fresh from a remarkable 10-0 Copa Brasil win over Naviraiense in mid-week, are still top of the Paulista with 32 points from 14 matches.
Defending Paulista champions Corinthians climbed to fourth with a 2-1 win over second-placed Santo Andre after former Brazil left back Roberto Carlos opened the scoring with his first goal for the club, a typical left-footed drive from outside the box.