Detroit Watch him on the mound in this, his fifth big-league season, at the are-you-joking age of 24. Rick Porcello pitches so seemingly effortlessly these days that he all but lulls his audience into a rocking chair as he eases through a game.

And that almost makes Porcello do something he doesn’t often do, at least publicly: laugh.

“Trust me, I’ve worked hard on this — it hasn’t come easy,” Porcello said after he turned in another shining effort Saturday in the Tigers’ 6-4 trimming of the Indians at Comerica Park.

Although his earned-run average (4.86) is gashed from that 10-run inning against the Angels in April, Porcello pitched Saturday as he has for much of the past six weeks. He has a 3.24 ERA and 51 strikeouts in his last eight starts, spanning 50 innings.

“Some excellent change-ups and off-speed stuff,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after the Tigers had won their third consecutive game and pushed their Central Division lead to 4½ games over the Indians. “That’s a big difference.”

Porcello worked six innings and turned in numbers that, for most of 2013, have been typical Porcello: three hits, two runs (one earned), two walks, seven strikeouts.

He also got an assist Saturday from a guy who made Tigers followers tremble — or boo — as he arrived for the ninth: Jose Valverde, who gave up a one-out bloop single, then walked Yan Gomes in a 10-pitch battle, before striking out old Tigers fan favorite Ryan Raburn, and finally, Mike Aviles, getting each batter on split-finger pitches for checked-swing strike-three calls.

It was Valverde’s eighth save of the season and a no-mishaps outing after Valverde twice this month gave up a pair of ninth-inning home runs.

His buddies on the batting side did their jobs, as well, beginning with Prince Fielder, who lashed a two-out, bases-loaded double to the right-center field wall that scored three of the Tigers’ four second-inning runs, turning a 1-0 Indians lead into a 4-1 Tigers takeover.

There was the customary sellout crowd on hand for Saturday’s game, this one topping out at 41,691. They saw the Tigers waste some potential big-run, big-inning situations early in the game, all before Fielder mashed his line-drive double to the right-center field gap against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco.