"We are human," left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. "We cannot win every game. It's good sometimes to lose tough games because we can come back strong the next day."
Tuesday was Cincinnati's day, despite only registering four hits, giving the Reds seven total for the series. Bronson Arroyo (11-10) held the Cubs to three hits in seven innings, and closer Francisco Cordero struck out the side in the ninth. The Cubs didn't see the usual Arroyo, the one that relies heavily on breaking balls.
"We know him, but he came today and changed his plans," said Soriano, one of four Cubs to go 0-for-3. "He threw a lot of fastballs today and sunk the ball, too. He pitched a very good game, so we have to give all the credit to him."
Lilly deserved credit for going unscathed until the sixth. Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan doubled off the center-field wall to break up his no-hitter, and later came home to tie the game. Edwin Encarnacion blooped a leadoff double in the seventh and scored the game winner. Lilly (12-7) had a line of two runs, two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
"I was throwing the ball pretty good," Lilly said. "I was using four pitches, my curveball was better than it's been in a while. I still made a mistake with it 0-2 to Hanigan. It's tough. It's one of those games where you look back and second guess yourself a little bit."
Encarnacion's double was the back-breaker. He popped a 3-1 pitch to shallow left, and shortstop Ryan Theriot chased it toward the line but the ball dropped over his shoulder. Soriano could have had a play on it if he gave the same all-out sprint as Theriot.
"I was not in a good position for the ball," Soriano said. "I saw the count as 2-1 or 3-1, and I went a couple steps back because he could hit a deep fly ball. He hit it on the end, and I didn't have a very good jump on the ball."
Lilly set down the first 10 batters -- just as Rich Harden did on Tuesday -- but walked Jeff Keppinger to lose a perfect game in the fourth. Mark DeRosa made a diving grab, one of a few spectacular plays by the second baseman, on Hanigan's liner in the third to keep the early perfection bid alive. Milt Pappas remains the last Cub to toss a no-hitter on Sept. 2, 1972, but Lilly gave a great effort.
"I thought he had really good stuff, to be honest with you," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I thought stuff-wise, this was one of Lilly's better games of the year."
As he watched Harden's 1-0 victory, Lilly mentioned to Ryan Dempster how fun it is to be on the good side of a pitchers' duel. But that feeling is absent for him this season. The Cubs have lost three 2-1 games and a 2-0 decision with their lefty on the hill. That, and not so much missing the no-hitter, made it frustrating.
"Just not being able to win close games still," Lilly said. "There's been a few games like this this year where we've matched up against a guy who was on his game. I was throwing the ball well, but ... you get into those kind of competitions and you want to win."
The Cubs manufactured their run in the second. Ramirez singled, moved to second on Derrek Lee's groundout, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on DeRosa's single. DeRosa now has 72 RBIs, matching his 2007 total.
Still, that rare silence spread through the Cubs' clubhouse afterward.
"It's a different feeling when we lose, which is good," Lee said. "There's just not a custom of losing. It feels a little different. Sometimes you tip your cap. Bronson did a great job tonight and the bullpen came in and shut the door. Turn the page, come back tomorrow."