Middlesbrough picked up their second straight win at the expense of rock-bottom Derby as Tuncay Sanli scored his third goal in as many games.
Tuncay celebrates scoring Middlesbrough's winner
Tuncay's volley lit up an otherwise quiet first half, while Kenny Miller hit the post for the Rams.
Derby had two penalty shouts turned down, while George Boateng hit the post for Boro after the break.
Jeremie Aliadiare had a goal ruled out for handball late on as Derby boss Paul Jewell lost in his first home game.
Middlesbrough started much the brighter and Gary O'Neill had the first attempt on goal but he shot straight at Stephen Bywater when in acres of space.
Giles Barnes, starting up front for Derby alongside Miller, had the hosts' first effort after 13 minutes to cap what was a low-key opening quarter of an hour the game.
Both sides probed for an opening but were lacking any real quality in the final third, with defences on top.
Defender Andy Griffin limped off to be replaced by Jay McEveley, before the game suddenly sprung into life in the 38th minute.
Stewart Downing's first-time cross from the left was brilliantly swept home on the volley by Tuncay for his third goal in as many games.
The goal seemed to spur on the home side who could have been level just two minutes later, but Miller's smart turn and shot clipped the outside of the post.
And five minutes before the interval, Derby had a good penalty shout turned down when David Wheater appeared to hold back Miller, referee Rob Styles waving away the protests.
After the break, Boro were again quickest out of the blocks and a great move involving Aliadiere and Tuncay set up Downing, whose shot was well saved by Stephen Bywater.
The resulting corner was scrambled clear and Boateng's diving header rebounded off the post from Fabio Rochembach's dangerous cross.
Derby had another penalty shout turned down when Pogatez clearly handled in the box, but Styles again waved away the protests as he gave a corner instead.
Barnes went on a mazy run taking on five Boro defenders before firing in a weak left-footed shot before the 19-year-old again tested Schwarzer from distance as Derby struggled to create any clear-cut chances.
Aliadiere saw his 88th-minute strike ruled out for handball, before the lively Barnes stung the hands of Schwarzer late on as Derby rallied.
But it wasn't enough as Middlesbrough clung on to get all three points and condemn Derby to their seventh straight league defeat and ease their own relegation fears in the process.
Derby manager Paul Jewell:
"It's tough when you're at the bottom of the League.
"The players aren't lacking in effort but we're lacking in quality.
"That's not a slight on the players, that's a fact because the League table tells you that."
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate on match-winner Tuncay Sanli:
"He gives us incredible enthusiasm and energy.
"He took on an effort that two weeks ago he probably wouldn't have done because of his confidence.
"But after scoring two in two coming into this game he has now settled and he has a rapport with the fans who can see the effort he is putting in."
Derby: Bywater, Mears, Davis, Moore, Griffin (McEveley 29), Teale (Howard 56), Oakley, Leacock, Pearson, Barnes, Miller (Earnshaw 74).
Subs Not Used: Price, Lewis.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young, Wheater, Woodgate, Pogatetz, O'Neil, Boateng, Rochemback, Downing (Johnson 89), Aliadiere, Tuncay.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Huth, Lee, Cattermole.
Goals: Tuncay 38.
Ref: Rob Styles (Hampshire).