Skippered by Jimmy Spithill with Sir Ben Ainslie the tactician, Oracle Team USA regained their confidence with a 52-second win after they overcame an eight-second deficit around the second mark to secure a 28-second lead at the third.
While most of the races have seen Team New Zealand claim an upwind advantage, Oracle more than matched their opponents and forced skipper Dean Barker and tactician Ray Davies to chase.
Team New Zealand continued their aggression and almost paid for it when their boat leaned some 45 degrees, while they were also hit with a penalty by race officials for failing to give way to the windward boat.
"We got about as close as you can possibly get to having the thing end up on its side," Barker said on www.americascup.com.
"We still take a lot of positives out of today. We're still very happy with the way the boat's going and there are still things we can improve. We'll be out there fighting for points tomorrow."
It set up a fascinating rest of the regatta for both sides, despite Oracle still trailing by six races.
Race nine was abandoned because the windspeed exceeded the prescribed race limit of 22.6 knots.
The action resumes on Sunday with races nine and 10.