Cole Hamels didn't throw a no-hitter against the Cubs again, but he was nearly as effective.
The Cubs managed just four hits and one run against Hamels on Sunday, failing to complete the sweep against the Texas Rangers with a 4-1 loss in front of 41,213 fans at Wrigley Field.
Hamels struck out the first six batters he faced and finished with seven whiffs against no walks.
"The way he started out, it was like, 'Here we go all over again,'" Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Then we started putting the ball in play. We just didn't have any really hard contact consistently.
"In the end, he got us again. He pitched really, really well."
The only run Hamels surrendered was unearned as Albert Almora Jr. reached on an error by Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre in the third inning and came around to score on Javy Baez's two-out double.
Hamels improved to 10-2 on the season and continued his dominance of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Thanks in large part to last July's no-hitter, the 32-year-old southpaw has allowed only eight earned runs in 41 innings in his career at the corner of Clark and Addison, good for a 1.76 ERA.
"He was on point today," Baez said. "He was making us chase. ... I chased a couple times, but I kept to my plan and I got him."
[SHOP: Get a hold of your own Cubs All-Star Game gear]
The Cubs mounted a mini-rally against Hamels in the seventh with back-to-back singles from Willson Contreras and Addison Russell to lead off the frame, but Jason Heyward lined into a double play at first base.
Maddon called that tough-luck double play a turning point in the game.
"I've said it before: He has been the most unlucky fellow," Maddon said of Heyward. "Well-struck balls at people all year. That's a game-changer in that particular moment. Line drive at first base, what are you gonna possibly do?"
John Lackey was hit hard early for the Cubs, giving up two runs in the second and solo tallies in the third and eighth innings. He settled in, retiring 11 straight Rangers at one point, but wound up with his sixth loss of the 2016 campaign.
Lackey was in line for a quality start before giving up a leadoff homer to Ian Desmond in the eighth inning. The Cubs' veteran starter finished with four earned runs on six hits and a pair of walks in eight innings, striking out eight on 112 pitches with the wind blowing out at Wrigley.
"I felt great," Lackey said. "The story really today was Cole. He pitched really well and we weren't able to do anything against him.
"I was honestly pretty happy about the way I threw the ball. Threw eight innings. It was definitely not a good day to pitch, for sure. Pretty much a different ballpark than the last couple days."
After taking two of three against the American League's best team, the Cubs welcome the Mets into Wrigley Field for a three-game series beginning Monday night.