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Must be the socks: Arrieta’s ugly-socks ‘tenacity,’ Rizzo’s 3-run HR lift Cubs

MILWAUKEE – One of the stranger exchanges in a big-league clubhouse went like this Thursday night after the Cubs’ 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers:

(Reporter) “Your socks were trending on Twitter tonight.”

(Jake Arrieta) “Good. … They were bad. I don’t claim that they were good. They were awful.”

These are the kinds of conversations that can arise in a clubhouse after a team comes from behind on a three-run, two-out homer in the eighth (Anthony Rizzo) and adds a pair of runs in the ninth – even when the guy with the ridiculous-looking faux-stirrup socks wasn’t as sharp and dominant as some recent outings in a six-inning start.

“He was not on top of his game regarding just his location and stuff,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, of Arrieta, who got through six with limited damage.

“It was just awkward to watch him like that, and it might have been his socks,” Maddon said, smiling. “I love the socks actually. That was like mid-70s right there. If I could have grown an Afro for a day, I would have, just to support him.

“But it’s a horrible look. You’ve got to love the tenacity it takes to wear something that awful. But then, again, Jake makes it look good. So there’s all these different forces of nature at work.”

Tenacity on this night included Rizzo hitting his second homer in as many games after going 17 games and an All-Star start without one.

His three-run, line-drive shot off left-hander Will Smith was his third hit of the night and quickly turned a 2-0 trudge of a game for the Cubs into a 3-2 reversal and eventual win.

“You know, this is a big win for us,” Arrieta said. “It’s a huge swing of the bat.”

The victory moved them to two games behind the idle San Francisco Giants for the second wild-card position in the National League.

They’ve won three of four since that ugly three-game sweep to the terrible Phillies and have three left against the last-place Brewers – whose lineup just lost Carlos Gomez to Thursday’s trade to the Astros.

Maddon isn’t ready to say he thinks this is the start of the extended run he’s been waiting for (especially with Pittsburgh and the hot Giants coming up right behind the Brewers).

“I liked the way it felt tonight, I’ll say that much,” he said. “We never caved. When we got the chance to come back, we did. And then the relief pitching slammed.”

Maybe it was just tenacity.

Maybe it was the socks.

“The socks were awful. Probably the worst socks I’ve ever worn,” said Arrieta, who said he actually wanted to wear the more authentic, old-school, throwback stirrups he wore when he beat the White Sox with a two-hitter July 12.

But Tom “Otis” Hellmann brought the wrong ones to Milwaukee, Arrieta said, throwing the Cubs’ clubhouse manager under the bus.

“I’ll blame Otis for that one,” said Arrieta, who just got his newly ordered short pants delivered.

“The socks started falling apart, fraying throughout the outing. So you won’t see them again,” he said. “You’ll see the high pants again. Just better socks.”