CHICAGO (AP) — Dane Dunning pitched seven effective innings, Luis Robert had a key two-run single and the Chicago White Sox strengthened their hold on the AL Central by topping the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Tuesday night.

Dunning (2-0) permitted one earned run and three hits in by far the biggest of his five major league starts. Looking poised and confident, the 25-year-old right-hander struck out seven and walked two in the longest outing of his career.

Tim Anderson and James McCann homered as Chicago (32-16) posted its sixth straight win and moved three games ahead of second-place Minnesota, which won the AL Central last year. The AL-best White Sox also moved 16 games over .500 for the first time since they were 71-55 on Aug. 26, 2012.

Byron Buxton hit his third career inside-the-park homer for Minnesota, but the Twins finished with just four hits. Randy Dobnak (6-4) allowed four runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings in his second straight loss.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli and designated hitter Nelson Cruz were ejected by plate umpire Will Little after Ryan Jeffers took a called third strike for the final out of the seventh. It was third career ejection for both.

Buxton showed off his breathtaking speed in the third, tying it at 1 when he raced around the bases for his ninth homer. Buxton’s drive to deep center caromed off the wall after Robert tried to make a leaping catch, and Buxton scored easily with a stylish headfirst slide.

Buxton and the Twins thought he had an inside-the-park homer in the ninth inning of Monday’s 3-1 loss, but it was changed to a ground-rule double after a replay review led to a ruling that his liner to left was lodged at the bottom of the wall.

This time, Buxton got to keep his first inside-the-park homer since Aug. 18, 2017. But the White Sox went ahead to stay with three runs in the bottom of the third.

McCann hit a tiebreaking double, and Robert followed with a liner back up the middle against a drawn-in infield. McCann and José Abreu scored to give Chicago a 4-1 lead.

After Buxton singled and scored on Jeffers’ groundout in the fifth, Chicago responded with solo homers by Anderson in the sixth and McCann in the seventh.

Anderson had three hits and scored twice, and Abreu also finished with three hits. Anderson and Abreu are both strong contenders for the AL MVP award.

WELCOME TO THE BIGS

Travis Blankenhorn started at second base for the Twins in his major league debut. He doubled in the ninth for his first career hit.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: INF Marwin Gonzalez rested a day after he was scratched due to an illness. Baldelli said Gonzalez was feeling much better. “I don’t think he’s going to miss very much time,” Baldelli said. … INF Miguel Sanó (neck stiffness) and OF Eddie Rosario (left elbow) returned to the starting lineup.

White Sox: LHP Jace Fry threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings after he was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. He had been sidelined by back spasms. “I got a shot in my back to help out and after that kind of set in, we took it slower,” Fry said. “I think I could have been back a few days ago. But they were being pretty safe with it and making sure I felt good before I got back on the mound.” LHP Bernardo Flores Jr. was optioned to the team’s alternate training site to make room on the roster.

UP NEXT

Lucas Giolito (4-2, 3.43 ERA) pitches for Chicago on Wednesday night. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts since he threw a no-hitter against Pittsburgh on Aug. 25. The Twins did not announce a starter before Tuesday’s game.

(© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)