Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen shared the points in a 1-1 draw, preventing both sides from pulling closer to the Bundesliga's leading teams.
Claudio Pizarro gave Bremen the lead after 29 minutes before Stefan Reinartz equalised in the 57th minute. It was Werder Bremen's second straight draw, which moves them onto 31 points - just one above Leverkusen.
Coach Robin Dutt left captain Michael Ballack on the bench for Leverkusen, while Bremen's four-man backline included new acquisition Francois Affolter and 18-year-old debutant Florian Hartharz.
The first chance came in the 20th minute with Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese doing a fine job sending Reinartz's shot from 13 yards over the crossbar.
Bremen missed an opportunity two minutes later with Pizarro shooting just wide right, but they grabbed the lead after 29 minutes as Mehmet Ekici passed to the left wing for Tom Trybull to cross into the middle. Pizarro then chested the ball down and blasted it low into the far right corner with his left foot.
The hosts nearly made it 2-0 just before half-time when Markus Rosenberg got behind Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno, but defender Daniel Schwab was in the way.
Leverkusen equalised in the 57th minute on a set-piece with Reinartz heading home Michal Kadlec's corner, with Wiese not coming off his line with much conviction.
The visitors had more possession, but could not pull ahead as Eren Derdiyok could only find side-netting in the 78th minute. However, Bremen had the last chance of the game four minutes later, with Rosenberg striking the left post.