Leverkusen see off Stuttgart to break losing streak
Swiss striker Eren Derdiyok headed home Leverkusen's winner six minutes from time.
Stuttgart's Moritz Leitner had given the visitors an early lead before Bayer striker Stefan Kiessling equalised in the first half.
The result sees Leverkusen close the gap behind league leaders Bayern Munich to ten points with the European champions hosting Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.
"We didn't start very well by conceding an early goal," said Bayer coach Sami Hyypia, whose side had lost successively to strugglers Frankfurt, Bremen and Freiburg.
"The difference compared to the matches against Freiburg and Bremen, which the team had really wanted to win, was that we had more structure in our game."
Schalke 04 moved up to fourth with a 2-1 victory at home to ten-man VfL Wolfsburg with Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng firing home the winner nine minutes from time.
The Royal Blues, who have lost just once in nine games, had taken an early lead after a scrappy goal was credited to Brazilian centre-back Felipe Santana as both he and Boateng lunged for the ball.
Wolfsburg drew level despite being down to 10 men, after Daniel Caligiuri was sent off for insulting the referee five minutes into the second-half, when teenager Maximilian Arnold fired home on 65 minutes.
But Boateng then fired home the winner for his sixth goal of the season to give Schalke their second straight win.
Schalke face a tough run of matches with Hanover, Leverkusen and Mainz coming up before they host Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.
There was a strong South Korean influence in Mainz's 2-0 win at home to Freiburg as Park Joo-Ho gave them a first-half lead.
Compatriot Koo Ja-Cheol added the second as the three points lifted Mainz to seventh.
Werder Bremen's poor form continues as they suffered a 3-1 defeat at Augsburg with the visitors finishing up with ten men.
An own goal gifted Bremen an early lead they could not maintain.
Midfielder Tobias Werner equalised for Augsburg, then Bremen had defender Santiago Garcia sent off for a second yellow card just before the break.
Goals by Augsburg's Turkey striker Halil Altintop and midfielder Andre Hahn in the first ten minutes after the break sealed their win.
The result left Bremen 12th in the league while Augsburg stay ninth.
Hamburg's slump continues as they were drubbed 3-0 at Hoffenheim, leaving Bert van Marwijk's side third from bottom as they suffered their fifth straight defeat.
"Our biggest problem is that we concede goals too easily," mused Hamburg coach Bert van Marwijk.
"The 2-0 was the turning point, we behaved like amateurs.
"We have to be able to get through a game without conceding a goal and shooting ourselves in the foot."
On Friday, Borussia Dortmund picked up their first win in five league games with a 2-1 victory at bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig with Gabon winger Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring both goals.