RB Leipzig suffered a shock 3-1 loss to 10-man Borussia Moenchengladbach on Monday to drop out of the top four with two games left.
Europa League semifinalists Leipzig were desperate to bounce back from last week's shock loss to Union Berlin to stay in the running for a top-four spot and Champions League action next season.
They fell a goal behind, however, when Breel Embolo slotted in from a lucky bounce in the 17th minute.
Christopher Nkunku levelled with a superb effort in the 36th as the hosts looked to have recovered but they were down again by a goal on the stroke of half-time after a quick combination between Embolo and scorer Jonas Hofmann.
Leipzig, who face Rangers in the Europa League second leg on Thursday, hit the woodwork through Andre Silva 10 minutes after the restart and were facing 10 Gladbach players after Nico Elvedi was sent off with a straight red card for a foul on Nkunku in the 64th.
Instead of making the extra man count, however, Leipzig conceded a third when Florian Neuhaus won possession in his own half, launching a quick move that Hofmann completed for his 10th league goal.
Leverkusen are on 58 points in third place, with Freiburg in fourth on 55. Leipzig drop to fifth on 54. Bayern Munich have already won the title and Borussia Dortmund, on 63, have all but sealed second place.