Goals from James Wallace and substitute Jake Cassidy gave Rovers the three points their performance deserved, leaving Dale five points adrift of safety in the League One drop zone.
Tranmere dominated the first half and were unfortunate to go in at the break just one goal to the good. They saw chances for Ryan Brunt and on-loan Everton youngster Wallace go begging before taking the lead in the 28th minute.
The impressive Wallace capitalised on a mistake from Jason Kennedy, collecting the ball 25 yards from goal and advancing towards Rochdale's penalty area before curling a shot past goalkeeper David Lucas.
Wallace seized on another mistake in the Rochdale midfield to go through on goal early in the second half only to be denied by Lucas.
At the other end, Dale finally found their shooting boots with Gary Jones hitting a post from a deflected free-kick. Substitute Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro volleyed over the crossbar and Andrew Tutte tested Owain Fon Williams from long-range. But the game was up eight minutes from time when Dean Holden lost possession and Cassidy slammed home from the edge of the area.
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