Champions Bayern Munich won 2-1 at Cologne on Saturday with goals from Thomas Mueller and Serge Gnabry returning them to the Bundesliga summit as coach Hansi Flick rested top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski.
The Bavarians, who are in action against Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and also face Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga next week, are on 15 points.
They are ahead of Borussia Dortmund on goal difference.
RB Leipzig, on 13 points, can retake top spot when they travel to Borussia Moenchengladbach later on Saturday.
Lewandowski’s absence was hardly felt with the visitors in control from the start, in spite of Flick’s rotation which also saw Leon Goretzka and Kingsley Coman rested.
They earned a 13th-minute penalty kick when Gnabry headed the ball onto Marius Wolf’s arm.
In Lewandowski’s absence, Mueller stepped up to score his fourth goal of the season with a well-placed penalty kick.
He thus equalled former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn’s club record for most victories (260).
Gnabry then got onto the scoresheet himself with a strong run down the wing.
He scored with a powerful left-footed effort in first-half stoppage time to seal their fourth straight league win.
“We did not have the feeling that we were very solid,” Gnabry said.
“We lost possession far too often in the second half. It was not our best game today but at the end we have the three points and we are happy.”
Cologne hardly ventured forward after the break and Bayern Munich eased off, with second-half substitutions taking the pace out of the game.
The hosts did score with Dominick Drexler’s deflection to cut the deficit in the 82nd minute but they could not challenge for an equaliser.