The result was a lopsided 7-1 victory for the Baltimore Orioles, who got their offense back on track Monday night at Archer's expense.
Chen (2-1) retired his first 10 batters and didn't allow a hit until James Loney doubled with one out in the fifth. The left-hander gave up one run, five hits and two walks in 6 1-3 innings.
In his previous two starts, Chen yielded eight runs and 21 hits in 10 2-3 innings.
''I think the main difference tonight was the movement on my pitches was better and the hitters had more trouble with it,'' Chen said through a translator.
Chen also got a big assist from his defense, beginning with the first play of the game when third baseman Ryan Flaherty snagged a sharp grounder and threw out Ben Zobrist.
''I thought balls went right at some fielders,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ''We were fortunate tonight. Real good defense. ... The baseball gods were kind to him tonight after not being kind to him early on.''
Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy each had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run for the Orioles, who were coming off a three-game series against Toronto in which they scored only five runs in 30 innings.
In this one, Baltimore built a 6-0 lead over the first three innings and coasted to the finish. The Orioles had 13 hits, including five doubles.
''A lot of big two-out hits, a lot of big RBIs with guys on second,'' Wieters said. ''It wasn't really the long ball that did it tonight, but we found a way to win.''
It was by far the poorest of Archer's 30 big league starts. The seven runs and 12 hits he allowed were both career highs, and his ERA jumped from 1.38 to 4.50.
''I actually felt good about how my stuff was,'' Archer said. ''I just made too many mistakes - and that's a good lineup.''
The performance came less than two weeks after the Rays gave Archer a six-year contract that guarantees the right-hander $25.5 million.
''If there is anything to take away from this game, I think it's how positive and encouraging my teammates were,'' Archer said. ''They fully believe in me, and when I came out they all said, 'In five days, you're going to make somebody pay.'''
Chen was facing a Tampa Bay team that has been struggling at the plate. The Rays have scored only 14 runs in their last eight games and have tallied three runs or fewer in seven of the last eight.
''We did hit some balls well. Our geometry is really bad right now. We're hitting balls at people,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''We just have to keep going up there and battling through it. It's just one of those bad periods.''
Tampa Bay's only run came in the sixth inning when Zobrist walked and scored on a single by Evan Longoria.
The outcome, however, was decided long before that.
Wieters gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead with a two-out RBI single in the first inning, and Baltimore added three runs in the second. Hardy doubled and Flaherty sliced an RBI single past the drawn-in infield before Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis delivered run-scoring doubles.
Doubles by Wieters and Hardy, followed by Steve Lombardozzi's RBI single, made it 6-0 in the third.
Singles by Wieters, Hardy and Flaherty gave the Orioles a 7-0 cushion in the fifth. The seven runs were more than the Orioles scored in 11 of their previous 12 games.
''It's nice to go out there and pitch like we did, hit like we did,'' Hardy said. ''It's just good to play a good game.''
NOTES: RHP Jake Odorizzi, scheduled to start Tuesday night for Tampa Bay, experienced flu-like symptoms and was sent back to the team hotel as a precaution. It appeared to be the same virus that sidelined Rays reliever Joel Peralta last weekend. ... Miguel Gonzalez is slated to start for the Orioles on what is projected to be a cold, wet Tuesday evening. ... Orioles 3B Manny Machado (knee) ran six 90-foot sprints in Florida and is slated to run from home to second base Tuesday, Showalter said. ... Tampa Bay optioned LHP Jeff Beliveau to Triple-A Durham and recalled RHP Brad Boxberger from the same minor league club. ... Tampa Bay OF Brandon Guyer was interviewed before the game by D.C. sports anchor Lindsay Murphy, who is also his wife. ... Since the start of last season, the Rays are 14-1 when Archer goes at least six innings and 2-9 when he doesn't.