ST. LOUIS -- Tim Lincecum dressed as quickly as he could, but it felt slow to him and everybody around, mostly because there were so many people around him.
This is how a lost season looks and feels and sounds.
"Sorry, guys," Lincecum said late Thursday, after putting on his familiar beanie and right before he put on his socks and shoes.
Then after a few more seconds, he turned around, stared into the cameras and addressed another pitching defeat -- probably for the last time this season, and definitely the most meaningful time.
Lincecum seemed tired after his short, unsatisfying outing against St. Louis in the Giants' 8-3 defeat to push them to the brink of NLCS elimination, but he didn't seem devastated.
He sounded deflated, but also as if he knew he was repeating himself -- from the last time he lost and the three times before that and the five times before that.
"It's extremely disappointing just because you feel like you can pick your team up in a situation like this," Lincecum said.
"But when you don't go and do it, it's that much harder of a fall, I guess."
Lincecum wasn't terrible Thursday, but he just wasn't good enough -- for himself or for his team, and his team desperately needed him to be great.
He knew that going in. He knew he could've put a different shine to his horrible regular season with a dominant performance in Game 4.
Lincecum was coming off three surprisingly strong relief outings in the playoffs, and everyone in the organization -- him, most of all -- was hoping he could turn that into a great and long game Thursday.
But no; he gave up two runs in the first inning, held it together for a while, then gave up two more runs in the fifth to let this game get away.
"Right now, I'm just obviously upset at myself for the game today, you know?" Lincecum said "But tomorrow's a new day, and we can look forward to fighting on that day."
So you're upset with yourself for this performance, Tim?
"Yeah, definitely," Lincecum said. "I don't want to go out there and put our bullpen in a situation where we have to use them the way that we have been using them. That's the frustrating part.
"Certainly they're up 2-0 in that first inning, definitely put our team in a hole and we're pretty much scratching back from there, hoping that things turn around. That first inning was really kind of big."
Lincecum threw 91 pitches, went 42/3 innings, giving up six hits, four earned runs and three walks and striking out three.
As in many previous starts this season, Lincecum didn't have command of his fastball and had to depend on his off-speed pitches.
When his slider and changeup were crisp, he got outs. When they weren't, he gave up big hits to Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday.
It was a grinding performance, but all too comparable to the almost-but-not-quite games Lincecum produced this season.
Leading to too many losses, and a lost season. Tim Lincecum, frustratingly repeating himself.
"He gave us all he had out there," manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum. "That was his last inning, and he was close to getting out of that inning ...
"Timmy, he's done a nice job with all that we've asked of him. He was keeping us in the game there."
The Giants have had multiple pitching power outages this season, with Lincecum's struggles as the headline.
Madison Bumgarner hit a wall in the late season, pitched on fumes in two playoff starts, including Game 1 of this series, and was replaced for Game 5 by Barry Zito.
But it's the Lincecum decline that can't be ignored -- he's the two-time Cy Young winner, he's the guy who finished off the Giants' 2010 World Series run in his previous playoff start.
Are his playoff results this season maybe a case of Lincecum feeling more comfortable with the immediacy of a relief appearance and getting too wound up for a regular start?
"Not really, didn't feel any different," Lincecum said. "When you have the start, you have to have the mindset that I've got to do my job anyway."
On Thursday, he had a few moments of misfortune, highlighted by the Giants' botched play at the plate on Carpenter in the fifth to extend the Cardinals' lead to 3-1.
But Lincecum was also fortunate: Angel Pagan reeled in Molina's deep blast at the wall in straightaway center field in the third, and Holliday just missed a slider and flied out to left to end the second inning.
Lincecum said he probably could pitch out of the bullpen again in two games -- for Game 6 on Sunday at AT&T Park, if the Giants win Game 5 on Thursday.
He said he just wants to help the team in any way he can, and he said that a few times. As he said it the past few days, weeks and months.
But you could tell that Lincecum knew he'd said it before, and he hasn't quite helped the Giants as much as he expected, again and again, in this lost and ever-repeating Lincecum season.