Lieber could throw strikes in a hailstorm, so it's no wonder he reacted as he did in the fifth inning of Sunday's 5-1 victory over the Pirates, which was called midway through the eighth inning following three rain delays totaling 3 hours 53 minutes.
With rain streaming into PNC Park and other players running for cover, Lieber stood on the mound with a look of astonishment. He couldn't understand why the game was being delayed.
"I didn't think it was coming down that hard," Lieber said. "I was surprised they called it that quick."
Lieber returned an hour and 39 minutes later to record two more outs and earn his second win of the season.
It was similar to last season, when he overcame a 1-hour-37-minute rain delay to fire a one-hitter against the Reds.
"Anytime there's a threat of rain, it's always great to have Lieber out there," manager Don Baylor said. "If you have a window (of clearing), he can pitch fast enough."
The Pirates seemingly did everything they could to rattle Lieber and try to prevent the game from becoming official.
After a long rain delay, the Cubs were told that the game would start at 3:10 p.m. But Lieber was not permitted to throw his first pitch until 3:14, and the discrepancy threatened to alter his pregame work.
"I didn't like it," Lieber said. "There are routines that you go through as a starter to try to prepare yourself."
Baylor was miffed when stadium operators turned on the lights after the Cubs' four-run third inning.
Not only did they flip on the lights just before the Pirates were to bat, they apparently did so without a request from crew chief Ed Montague.
"They can [turn on the lights] anytime if they ask for it," Baylor said. "But it was not asked for, and it has to be [Montague's] call."
When Baylor protested, Montague offered to have the lights turned off. But that would have taken five to seven minutes, and with rain threatening, Baylor decided to leave them on.
"They tried to stall us," Baylor said of the Pirates. "But it worked to our advantage today."
Chiefly because of Lieber, who improved to 7-0 in 10 career starts against his former team.
"It's tough to get anything going because he forces you to hit at his pace," Kevin Young said.
The Cubs broke a scoreless tie in the third after Chris Stynes' leadoff walk. Alex Gonzalez knocked in two runs with a single and Mark Bellhorn, in his fourth consecutive start, sent two more home with a double.
The Cubs added their final run in the sixth when Sammy Sosa earned his first RBI that didn't result from a home run. He beat an unusual shift that featured three infielders playing just off the grass to the left of second base.
The shift didn't rattle Sosa, and the Pirates' tactics couldn't prevent the Cubs from winning their first series of the season.
"Finally something happened on our terms," Baylor said.