Nationals right-hander John Patterson grew up in the east Texas town of Orange, and he credits moving back to his home town last year as a calming influence that has helped him mature as a person and develop into a better pitcher. Yesterday, though, Patterson worried about his home town and his family as Hurricane Rita bore down on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

"It's just been crazy," Patterson said.

Patterson's parents, who still live in Orange, were scheduled to fly from Houston -- about 110 miles west of Orange -- to Washington yesterday, but with hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated, the roads were clogged, and they couldn't make their flight.

So they decided to wait for Patterson's sister to arrive in Orange from Houston, and then planned to head north to a lake house owned by some relatives in Jasper County. But Patterson said that even that area is preparing for evacuation, so the family may not be able to remain there. He said both his house and that of his parents are directly on the water in Orange. His brother and his grandmother have one-story homes off the coast.

Patterson is next scheduled to pitch on Sunday against the New York Mets. But he said yesterday there's a chance he would decline to pitch if his family isn't secure.

"This is not more important than my family," Patterson said. "If it's a bad enough situation, it's something I'll consider."

Father-Son Reunion

The father of reliever Gary Majewski, a civilian contractor who has worked on security issues for the U.S. government in such places as Afghanistan and Bosnia, is in town this week and saw his son pitch in the majors for the first time yesterday. The younger Majewski was called up to the majors with Montreal last season, but his father, Jerry, was in Afghanistan at the time, and could only chart his son's progress on the Internet.

"It was very hard," the elder Majewski said. Gary threw a perfect eighth inning in yesterday's 2-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants, and said he was happy his father was back in the States and able to see him pitch.

"It takes a weight off your shoulders," he said.