Gary Cahill's header after enough 10 minutes was enough to end the Reds' 100 per-cent record, following on from four successive victories on home soil, at the Rose Bowl in an aggressive affair.
In addition to Liverpool's six yellow cards, Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas was sent off for a dangerous challenge - which he later apologised for - on debutant Ragnar Klavan.
But Jürgen Klopp's men could not make the most of their one-man advantage in the final 18 minutes as their Premier League opponents defended well.
Cahill heads early breakthrough for Conte's Chelsea
Klopp fielded with a strong starting side with a triumvirate of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane heading the attack.
With Joel Matip still out injured, Ragnar Klavan partnered Dejan Lovren in the heart of defence for his first appearance since joining from FC Augsburg.
The German also welcomed England internationals James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana back into the matchday squad as the trio took up spots on the bench.
Alex Manninger, who signed for the club on a free transfer last week, also came into the squad while Sheyi Ojo - fresh from his involvement at the U19 European Championships - joined them.
With Chelsea boss Antonio Conte also handing starts to the likes of Cahill, John Terry, Fabregas, Nemanja Matic and Willian - there was a physicality to the game from the outset.
It was the Blues who stole an early lead, Cahill climbing above Marko Grujic to meet Fabregas' corner and power a header past Loris Karius from 12-yards.
Klopp's side responded well to their disappointing set-piece defending with a good spell of pressure. Coutinho had Liverpool's first real opportunity from a free-kick 25-yards out, but Asmir Begovic sprung well to deny his well-hit set-piece.
Klopp's side struggle to create clear opportunities
Liverpool lacked sufficient guile and composure in the vital moments, Firmino's miscontrol allowing the ball to escape his reach after left-back Alberto Moreno had picked him out in the middle.
Chelsea had half-chances to double their lead on the half-hour, Lovren denying Ruben Loftus-Cheek a chance to shoot with an outstretched leg before the following corner saw Victor Moses' half-volley fly well over the crossbar.
It looked as though Liverpool had drawn level on 36 minutes, Ovie Ejaria releasing Firmino into a dangerous position but although he beat Begovic from close-range, the linesman's flag denied him a goal for offside.
After a flurry of bookings in what was a very competitive opening 45 minutes, Grujic's headed collision with Bertrand Traore and the resulting awkward landing forced the midfielder to be replaced by Adam Lallana at the break.
Substitutions can't pull Reds back into the game
Chelsea initially started the second-half the better team with Traore close to meeting Moses' left-sided cross only for Lovren to beat him to it, before Willian's free-kick from range amounted to nothing.
But after making six substitutions, Liverpool grew into the game and seemed to be handed the advantage when Fabregas was given his marching orders for a late high challenge on Klavan.
Spanish referee Baldomero Toledo was quick to brandish red, for which Fabregas could have no complaints after catching the Estonian defender high on the ankle.
In the closing stages, Liverpool's outfield players were virtually encamped inside Chelsea's half as Klopp made further substitutions - leaving only Karius and Klavan to complete the full 90 minutes.
Despite the fresh legs of they couldn't fashion any opportunities against a well-drilled Chelsea side to prevent a first defeat of pre-season.
The Reds' tour of the United States continues with a clash against AC Milan in Santa Clara on Sunday, where the Reds will look to bounce back with a victory.
Liverpool XI: Karius, Randall (Wisdom, min. 63), Lovren (Milner, min. 63), Klavan, Moreno (Alexander-Arnold, min. 86), Stewart (Brannagan, min. 86), Ejaria (Henderson, min. 63), Grujic (Lallana, min. 45), Mane (Ojo, min. 64), Coutinho (Markovic, min. 63), Firmino (Ings, min. 63).