Ben Zobrist tossed his bat to the ground in disgust and jogged to first base as Pirates right fielder Sean Rodriguez settled under the ball.
It was an odd sign of frustration from a guy who has been the hottest hitter in the game over the last couple weeks on an offense that just scored 17 runs over the previous two games.
But it illustrated the reality: The Cubs' offense can't possibly be on at all times.
Zobrist and the Cubs couldn't solve Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, losing 2-1 on Sunday in front of 40,814 fans at Wrigley Field.
It was the Cubs' first loss to the Pirates in the last eight games dating back to last September.
Cole was absolutely brilliant, allowing three hits (one of which was a sun-aided double by Dexter Fowler in the first when Pirates infielders lost track of the ball) and didn't walk a batter, striking out seven.
"That was as good as we've seen Cole in a while," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, "so give him credit. ... There's nothing to complain about. Just a really well-played baseball game and we got beat today."
A Zobrist double and an Addison Russell infield single were the only two legit hits off Cole all day.
Jon Lester took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Starling Marte singled to right field on Lester's 101st pitch of the day. Two batters later, Jung Ho Kang drilled a double in the gap and the Pirates were on the board.
Lester admitted it was hard not to notice he had something special brewing, but "it doesn't matter now," he said.
"It was a well-pitched game on both sides," Lester said. "Cole probably didn't pitch the way he wanted to the last time he faced us and came back with a little bit of vengance there. He really threw the ball well today.
"It sucks sometimes. The old cliche of, 'tip your hat to the other guy,' but when you don't allow any, it gives you a chance to win that ballgame. He did that today and sometimes you have to tip your hat on the other side. The other guy threw the ball better than I did today."
Kang later added a solo homer in the ninth inning off Cubs closer Hector Rondon.
The Cubs mounted a rally in the ninth when Fowler walked and Jason Heyward singled to lead off the inning. After Kris Bryant popped out to shallow center, Anthony Rizzo drove home Fowler with a sacrifice fly to right field.
But Zobrist grounded into the shift in shallow right field to end the threat and the game.
The Cubs are off Monday before hitting the road for 10 days beginning Tuesday night in Milwaukee.