BERLIN (AP) — Bayer Leverkusen held Borussia Dortmund to a scoreless draw to leave the 2011 and 2012 champion bottom of the Bundesliga after Freiburg's 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Dortmund is last on 16 points from 18 games, though it managed to avoid conceding for the first time since its 1-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach on Nov. 9.
"It's a step forward in any case," Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin said. "We can be satisfied with the point."
Earlier, Nils Petersen scored a hat trick on his debut as Freiburg came from behind to beat Frankfurt and climb off the bottom to 13th place.
Marco Russ fired visiting Frankfurt ahead in the first minute. The equalizer - through Vladimir Darida - didn't come for more than an hour and Petersen scored on a counterattack three minutes later. Petersen claimed his second in the 70th and completed his hat trick in the 88th.
"I wouldn't be a realist if I'd dreamed about such a debut," said Petersen, who joined Freiburg on loan from Werder Bremen in December. "I'll enjoy the moment now, I'm happy I could help the team get an important win. Tomorrow it's gone, then (the fight) carries on."
For all Dortmund's effort, the closest the visitors came to scoring early on was when Wendell almost turned Marco Reus' free kick into his own net in the 28th.
Mats Hummels cleared Gonzalo Castro's effort off the line with Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller beaten in the 39th as Leverkusen finished the half strongly.
Dortmund improved after the break, when Ciro Immobile tested Bernd Leno and nearly set up Reus. He also had a penalty appeal turned down.
The Italian missed another good chance when he was surprised by Kevin Kampl's cross. Kampl was making his Bundesliga debut after joining from Salzburg.
"I thought it was a good start after the preparation. On Wednesday we have another chance to get the three points (against Augsburg)," Kampl said.
Castro should have scored with 15 minutes remaining as Dortmund was caught out on a counterattack in the game's best chance.
"I'm satisfied today. Little steps are very important," said Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp despite the club's worst league start for 30 years. "We didn't lose our nerve. We showed that we did a bit of work in the winter break. Now it goes on."
Moenchengladbach moved into third place with a 1-0 win at Stuttgart thanks to Patrick Herrmann's 71st-minute strike on a counterattack.
Schalke kept pace by defeating Hannover 1-0. Marco Hoeger scored with a deflected shot in the 32nd when Christian Fuchs' cross somehow found its way through a host of players for him to shoot.
Benedikt Hoewedes produced a goal-saving tackle to deny Joselu an equalizer before the break, and Schalke's Klaas Jan Huntelaar was sent off with five minutes remaining for a wild tackle on Manuel Schmiedebach.
"The performance was OK but to get points you need to score," Hannover coach Tayfun Korkut said.
Mainz routed promoted Paderborn 5-0 at home, and Marcel Risse scored twice in the second half for Cologne to win 2-0 at Hamburger SV.
Veteran Ivica Olic began his second stint with Hamburg, a day after joining from Wolfsburg. Olic left Hamburg in 2009 for Bayern Munich.
Players and fans applauded for one minute before their respective games in tribute to young Wolfsburg midfielder Junior Malanda, killed in a car crash on Jan 11.
Wolfsburg handed Bayern its first league defeat of the season on Friday with a fully deserved 4-1 win to cut the gap at the top to eight points.