Jos Buttler's batting heroics were in vain at Chester-le-Street as Durham edged a tight match against Lancashire in a tense finish.
Lancashire required an improbable 340 for victory in the LV= County Championship Division One tussle after bowling out the home side for 267 on Tuesday.
By the start of the final day their remaining target was 299, with eight wickets in hand.
At 74 for four it seemed a tall order, after Usman Khawaja and Ashwell Prince fell cheaply, but Steven Croft, who made 72, and Buttler gave credibility to Lancashire's pursuit.
Buttler, not required by England for Test duty at the start of this summer, ploughed on to reach exactly 100 not out, but last man Simon Kerrigan's dismissal for a seven-ball duck, removed by Chris Rushworth (four for 45), settled the contest as Lancashire were finished off for 312 and Durham won by 27 runs.
The Red Rose men slipped below their hosts into the second relegation place, despite the impressive effort of Buttler, whose century was his first in the championship since his move from Somerset.
For Northamptonshire there was the crushing inevitability of another defeat in their miserable championship season, folding by an innings and 105 runs against Warwickshire at the County Ground.
Warwickshire had declared on Tuesday on 602, leading by 290, and with Northamptonshire slumping to 51 for three by the close there looked to be only one direction the match was taking.
Duly Northamptonshire crumbled to 185 all out on Wednesday, James Middlebrook's 50 and Matthew Spriegel's 42 providing the only substantial resistance as the home side, without a win in the four-day game this season, stayed true to form.
In Division Two, promotion-hunting Worcestershire trounced winless Leicestershire by 234 runs at Grace Road, where veteran off-spinner Saeed Ajmal produced a devastating spell that saw him swipe the home side's final six wickets.
Leicestershire faced a daunting target of 404 for victory and were 144 for four in the 41st over of their second innings when Ajmal stamped his mark on proceedings, removing Niall O'Brien, Dan Redfern, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Ben Raine, Richard Jones and Charlie Shreck. Come the end of the 51st over, Leicestershire were all out for 169 and shell-shocked.
Ajmal departed the scene of triumph with innings figures of six for 19 from 14 overs.
Rarely has a result been in such little doubt come the final day as was the case in Derby, where Derbyshire left Surrey needing just 21 runs in their second innings to tie up a win.
Surrey, who had bowled out their hosts for 288 late on Tuesday, duly reached their target with no fuss and no fall of wickets, inside six overs.
Glamorgan enjoyed an innings-and-11-run victory over Kent at Sophia Gardens, where Australian paceman Michael Hogan wrapped up a 10-wicket match haul by plundering five for 67 in the visitors' second innings.
Darren Stevens was out early in the day for 60, and despite Adam Ball adding 50 the task of saving the match was too great for Kent, who had allowed Glamorgan to amass 527 in their one innings.
Jonny Bairstow made a century as Yorkshire secured maximum first-innings batting points, and perhaps a platform from which they can push for victory, on day three of their match against Sussex at Arundel.
He was almost joined in reaching three figures by Jack Leaning, with the 20-year-old advancing from an overnight 75 not out to 99 before James Tredwell had him brilliantly caught and bowled as he looked to reach three figures with a boundary.
Yorkshire are seeking to displace Nottinghamshire from the top of Division One, and with Tim Bresnan also weighing in with 68 they built a first-innings lead of 154 in posting 470 for seven, with Bairstow 161 not out at the declaration, his first championship hundred since April 2011.
Sussex openers Chris Nash and Luke Wells survived to reduce their arrears by 21 at stumps.