Liga MX wrap: Benitez treble sends America top
Portland Timbers have extended their unbeaten run to six matches in the MLS with a 3-2 win away to Sporting Kansas City.
Pachuca moved two goals ahead of America in the 49th minute but Benitez's treble, plus a penalty from Raul Jimenez, in the space of 16 minutes saw the visitors take the three points.
The victory saw America leapfrog Tigres UANL and Atlas into top position after the latter two clubs failed to win over the weekend.
Tigres suffered their second defeat in three matches with a 1-0 loss at home to Monterrey, while Atlas were held to a 1-1 draw by Puebla.
At Pachuca's Estadio Miguel Hidalgo on Saturday, the hosts opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Angel Reyna's powerful drive.
Pachuca doubled the lead four minutes after the break after their goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota launched the ball forward and it ended at the feet of Fernando Cavenaghi, who broke into America's penalty area and fired a rocket of a shot into the top corner of the net.
But America got back into the match when Benitez headed home a corner just after the hour mark and the Ecuadorian striker equalised in the 65th minute, collecting a low cross that evaded a number of players, holding off his marker and then smashing the ball high into the net from close range.
Pachuca were reduced to 10 players a minute later when Daniel Arreola deliberately used his hands to keep out Benitez's shot and Jimenez slotted the resultant penalty.
America wrapped up victory with 13 minutes remaining as Benitez dribbled past two defenders and then lifted the ball over Cota.
Cruz Azul moved up to sixth on the table with their sixth win in a row in all competitions, knocking off fourth-placed Santos Laguna 1-0, while Morelia have risen to fifth after a 2-1 victory over Toluca, extending their unbeaten run to 11 games.
In other results, Leon defeated Atlante 1-0, San Luis knocked off Tijuana by the same scoreline, while Pumas UNAM thumped Jaguares 3-0 and Queretaro claimed a 2-1 victory away to Guadalajara.