The leaders of the NL East & NL West meet tonight in Philadelphia.

Phillies on top

Cliff Lee

If you like Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies when they continue their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, then you'll have to lay a little cheddar.

MLB betting started at -230 and went up on Lee and the Phils for the second of a 3-game series with an ESPN audience looking on (7:05 PM ET). The lucky number for totals bettors was seven early on but had settled at 7.5 by Wednesday morning. 

It was roughly the same odds Tuesday for Game 1 when Roy Halladay was on the hill for the Phils. The 2010 Cy Young winner in the National League went the distance and struck out 14, but was done in by a 9th-inning Arizona rally in the Diamondbacks' 3-2 win. 

Tuesday's triumph was Arizona's 7th-straight, increasing the D-Backs' lead in the National League West Division to 3.5 games over a slipping San Francisco squad (The Giants play Atlanta tonight to try and make up ground). Philadelphia's lead in the National League East is 7.5 games following the loss. 

A repeat of what Lee (12-7, 2.83) did in June appears to be his goal for August with two scoreless starts so far. Those outings did come at pitcher-friendly parks in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but Lee has certainly been no slouch at home in Citizens Bank Park, often considered a hitter's haven. 

Lee owns a 2.26 ERA at home in 13 starts, the Phillies winning nine of them. That has only translated to a little less than two units for MLB bettors, a testament to the chalk he and Philadelphia are laying in those games. 

He struck out a dozen D-Backs in Arizona in late April as a -140 road favorite, but got no help from his lineup in a 4-0 loss.

Joe Saunders and the D-Backs

Lee will be facing Joe Saunders (8-9, 3.76) in the all-southpaw matchup who is in many ways having a surprisingly good season. Arizona is even in his 24 starts and he's been incredibly tough to beat as a road dog lately. Saunders has won his last four away assignments and the Diamondbacks are 6-2 (+5.30 units) in his last eight. 

He is coming off a couple of rough performances against the Dodgers and Astros, a couple of teams not exactly known for tearing the cover off the ball. The Phillies also busted Saunders up in an April meeting in the desert, scoring six times and collecting 10 hits in his 5.2 innings of work. 

The Phillies are going to be without third baseman Placido Polanco (sports hernia) for this game and a few more. They also are going to skip Cole Hamels' next start as the southpaw deals with what's being reported as "inflammation in his left shoulder." 

Arizona's most recent additions to the disabled list were pitcher Jason Marquis (broken leg) and outfielder Xavier Nady (broken hand). Marquis will miss the rest of the season, and Nady will at least miss most of the remaining 40 games. 

Taking a Chance: Playing big favorites is never any fun, but backing Saunders against an offense that has already roughed him up is tough to do as well. It's supposed to be a clear, muggy evening in Philly tonight with a light southern breeze blowing out to center. I'm going to put my faith in Lee and the Phillies offense with a play on the run line. PHI -1.5 (-115)