Lancashire slipped to a nine wicket defeat inside three days against Somerset at Taunton today
The hosts posted a first innings lead of 123 during the morning session, before bowling Lancashire out for 170 inside 60 overs.
Nick Compton then scored 26 not out as Somerset eased to their target of 48 inside nine overs to move within two points of leaders of Nottinghamshire with one round of matches left to play in the LV= County Championship season.
Seven points now separate the top three sides in Division One, but Lancashire cannot now win the title after losing their third match of the campaign.
Coach Peter Moores said: “It’s always tough getting beat, especially when it’s a big game. We know it ends our chances of winning the Championship, but we can have no complaints because they played better than we did.
“We’ve moved forward as a team (this season). Statistically we’ve been better, we’ve won more games than last year. But this is one of the few games where we feel we’ve been well beaten.”
Charl Willoughby and Alfonso Thomas took three wickets each for buoyant Somerset, who put their visitors under pressure for the vast majority of this match.
The only time Mark Chilton’s side gained a foothold in the contest was yesterday afternoon when Gary Keedy took three wickets in four balls to reduce the hosts to 276-8 in their first innings replying to 259.
Lancashire slipped to 116-7 as tea approached, but an eighth wicket partnership of 41 between Luke Procter and Kyle Hogg at least made the home side bat for the 23 points.
Mark Chilton, Gareth Cross and Sajid Mahmood recorded a trio of ducks for Lancashire, while opener Paul Horton only managed two. Steven Croft top scored with 46 as he shared 55 for the fifth wicket with Procter.
But left handed Procter, in his third Championship innings, provided some encouragement with a calm and composed 32 off 108 balls before he was caught behind by Craig Kieswetter off left armer Willoughby early in the evening session.
Hogg hit five fours and a six in his unbeaten 37 off 47 balls, while Peter Trego and Ben Phillips took two wickets each.
Mahmood then had Marcus Trescothick caught by Croft in the gully for eight in the first over of the chase.
Earlier, Somerset had added another 32 runs to take their first innings total to 382 all out with Kartik Murali finishing 52 not out.
Tom Smith trapped Phillips lbw before Willoughby was run out going for two to Simon Kerrigan at deep square leg.
Lancashire, who take five points from this fixture, close out the campaign with a home match against Notts at Old Trafford starting on Monday.