Celta Vigo pulled away from the relegation zone after beating fellow strugglers Almeria, while Real Sociedad left it late to defeat Espanyol.
Football's most expensive player Bale scored his first hat-trick as a Real Madrid player and provided an assist as Carlo Ancelotti's side brushed aside Real Valladolid 4-0 at the Bernabeu
Angel di Maria struck the crossbar for Real on six minutes before being involved in the opening goal on 33 minutes when his shot was pushed out by Diego Marino at the perfect height for Bale to nod in.
Bale followed up his goal by providing Karim Benzema with the second three minutes later when the Wales international delivered a sublime cross for the striker to run into space and head past Marino.
The third goal arrived on 64 minutes. Bale played Marcelo in down the left and, when the full-back's cross was blocked by a Valladolid defender, he side-footed the loose ball into the bottom corner.
With the visitors well beaten and the 90 minutes almost up, Bale found time for one last goal, appearing at the near post to nudge Marcelo's cut-back into an empty net.
Atletico Madrid came out on top after an awkward match at Elche to go level on points with Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division table thanks to a 2-0 win.
Diego Simeone's side took the lead on 63 minutes to the fury of the hosts. Raul Garcia's shot was spilled by Manu Herrera and Diego Costa barged Alberto Botia out of the way and allowed Koke to tap in from a few yards out.
The Elche players were furious that a foul had not been called against Costa, but were unable to change referee Carlos Delgado Ferreiro's mind.
The visitors wrapped up the game on 74 minutes when substitute Adrian burst forward and played a perfectly-weighted chipped pass over the heads of two Elche defenders for Costa to strike past Herrera and score his 15th goal of the season.
Celta Vigo came from behind to claim a vital 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Almeria to climb away from the foot of the Primera Division table.
Suso scored the opening goal for visitors Almeria in the 10th minute as they went in search of their fourth league win of the season.
However, Fabian Orellana levelled for Celta before second-half goals from Borja Oubina and Charles sealed a win which boosts them clear of the bottom three.
Real Sociedad came from behind to win 2-1 at Espanyol after being helped by two defensive blunders from the hosts.
Espanyol took the lead on 31 minutes when Sergio Garcia's clever dummy sent Jhon Cordoba clear and he showed good composure to finish in the corner.
But Sociedad levelled on 69 minutes when a cross came in from the right and Antoine Griezemann got there before Espanyol keeper Kiko Casilla to head into an empty net.
The winner arrived two minutes from time when Sociedad worked a short corner and, from the resulting cross, Christian Stuani at the near post sliced the ball past Casilla.