Lancs edge Durham in thriller
Ajmal Shahzad and Kyle Hogg saw Lancashire to a tense two-wicket win with four balls to spare against fellow Division One strugglers Durham.
A half-century by overseas star Ashwell Prince looked to have set the reigning champions on course for a comfortable first win of the season, particularly when they were 156 for four in pursuit of only 200.
But when skipper Glen Chapple was eighth out they still needed 32 to win in 5.4 overs, but Shahzad and Hogg saw them home in a pulsating finish at Chester-le-Street.
Defeat spelt further agony for Durham, who will suffer a points deduction for a slow over-rate and are now further adrift at the foot of Division One.
It was also an injustice for Graham Onions, who had career-best match figures of 11 for 95 but was let down at the end by Steve Harmison.
Having removed Paul Horton the previous evening, Onions' figures on the day were 16-4-26-5. But when Harmison was recalled with Lancashire needing 22 off three overs, his first over cost nine and he began the final over with an unreachable no-ball which bounced high over the batsman's head. Two balls later Shahzad drove him to long-on for the winning four.
With rain preventing any play until 2.55pm, Lancashire had 44 overs to score the 144 runs they needed when they resumed on 56 for one.
Onions opened up with a superb 11-over spell, broken by tea, in which he took three for 12.
When he was rested with the score on 108 for four he had taken all the wickets and no-one else was really threatening, although Harmison almost succeeded in having Prince caught at leg gully on 14.
A chance flew fast and low to Ben Stokes' left hand but he was unable to hang on and shortly afterwards the brakes came off when the left-handed Prince hooked Harmison over fine leg for six.
With Onions out of the attack at that point, 20 runs suddenly came off two overs after only 52 had come off the day's first 22.
Luke Procter helped Prince to put on 58 and Lancashire looked to be in control until left-arm swing bowler Jamie Harrison had Procter caught behind for 15.
The target was 41 off eight when South African Prince was sixth out for 51, brilliantly caught at first slip by Gordon Muchall when giving Harrison the charge.
In the next over Onions completed his second 10-wicket match haul of the season by pinning Gareth Cross lbw and when he removed Chapple in the same fashion Durham were favourites.
But they could not find the necessary support for Onions as Shahzad (19 not out) and Hogg (12no) clinched victory.
Durham learned after their two-wicket defeat that they would have four points deducted because of their slow over-rate, leaving them with minus one point from the match.
It means they are now 14 points adrift of Worcestershire at the foot of Division One and 25 behind Surrey, who are third from the bottom.
Champions in 2008 and 2009, Durham led the table by 23 points last year after completing a double over Lancashire in the 10th game. But they finished third and have lost four of their first seven games this season.
Coach Geoff Cook said: "Nobody is talking about relegation. If we pick up two or three wins everything will look completely different.
"After being put in and getting bowled out for 102 on the first day we played with a lot of resolve.
"The fact that we only had 44 overs' play today altered the chemistry of the match but we could still have won it at the end if a couple of decisions had gone our way."