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Corey Dickerson’s three-run shot off Kyle Hendricks does Cubs in as Marlins take Game 1 of NL wild-card series

Dickerson’s three-run homer proved to be the difference in the Cubs’ 5-1 loss to the Marlins in the series opener.

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Cubs manager David Ross trusts right-hander Kyle Hendricks wholeheartedly, even when he gets himself into a tough jam.

That’s what happened in the seventh inning of the Cubs’ 5-1 loss Wednesday to the Marlins in Game 1 of their National League wild-card series.

Hendricks had to battle from the first pitch, and he gave the Cubs all they could ask for until the seventh.

He had to be a magician in his first six innings. He didn’t have his best stuff and didn’t get a curveball or changeup called for a strike until the fifth.

But despite close calls in the fourth, fifth and sixth, Hendricks held a 1-0 lead and appeared to be in a position to turn things over to the bullpen.

‘‘Kyle pitched his tail off today,’’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo said.

Hendricks came out for the seventh against the bottom of the Marlins’ order and got a quick out to start the inning. But things took a quick turn when Miguel Rojas and Chad Wallach hit back-to-back 102 mph singles.

With trusted reliever Jeremy Jeffress warming up in the bullpen, that likely signaled the end of Hendricks’ outing.

‘‘When you’re looking at it before the inning starts, you’re gonna give him through Wallach,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Then you start to look at [left-handed-hitting Corey] Dickerson and start to talk through the lefty-righty matchup. But with the three-batter minimum now, how far do you want maybe one of your lefties to go with Dickerson with [right-handed-hitting Starling] Marte sitting behind him and then some big boys if things don’t work out?’’

Ross had an important decision to make in his first game managing in the postseason: Should he let Hendricks face Dickerson, who was 0-for-2 with a walk to that point, or bring in Jeffress, who’s known for getting ground balls in those situations?

Ross chose the former, putting his faith in Hendricks to get a big out. But Dickerson lined Hendricks’ 106th pitch into the left-field seats to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead and put the Cubs on their heels.

‘‘In the seventh, I felt great,’’ Hendricks said. ‘‘I felt really strong, just like my previous outings. Kind of got better as the game went along. Just a good swing by Dickerson, really. Jumping on the first pitch there and put a good swing on it. So just got to tip your cap. Nothing you can do there.

‘‘I’ve been feeling so strong at the end of games. I was making good pitches, and I’d made good pitches to Dickerson all day long. That wasn’t a bad pitch; he just jumped on it. You know he’s sitting on it. He didn’t miss it.’’

Ross then brought in Jeffress, who allowed a single to Marte and a two-run homer to Jesus Aguilar, making it 5-1 and seemingly putting things out of reach.

‘‘You trust in the guy that got you there,’’ Ross said. ‘‘And trusting him all year long, he’s done nothing but perform.’’

Starting pitching was going to be what led the way for the Cubs this postseason. But with Hendricks not having his best stuff, it’s now up to right-hander Yu Darvish to keep the Cubs’ playoff hopes alive in Game 2.

Darvish was one of the best starters in the majors this season, and now is the time for him to pitch like an ace.

‘‘No panic,’’ said Hendricks, who allowed three runs in 6„ innings. ‘‘We got the guy we want on the mound [Thursday] for us. So we’ve just gotta go out there and win a ballgame.’’