Anthony Modeste fired the in-form visitors in front, but HSV hit back through Pierre-Michel Lasogga, who was unlucky not to add to his tally in the second half.
Modeste strikes first
Hamburg welcomed captain Rafael van der Vaart back into the fold following a 50-day spell on the sidelines through injury. The talismanic Dutchman was heavily involved in the early stages, but Hoffenheim carried just as much a threat through dynamic attacking triumvirate Kevin Volland, Roberto Firmino and Modeste.
Indeed it was Modeste - named in the starting line-up at the expense of Adam Szalai - who broke the deadlock with a fine finish through the legs of Jaroslav Drobny following a fine pass from Pirmin Schwegler. The Frenchman almost added a second moments later, before Drobny was called on to beat away Firmino's towering back-post header.
Lasogga strikes back
Undeterred, the hosts might have got themselves back on level terms were it not for a string of quick-fire saves from Oliver Baumann to deny van der Vaart and Nicolai Müller, but their perseverance paid off 11 minutes before the break when Tolgay Arslan picked the pocket of Firmino and fed Lasogga, who beat the offside trap to net his second of the campaign.
The sides continued to trade lusty blows as Heiko Westermann flashed a fierce header narrowly over at one end and Tarik Elyounoussi forced another smart stop from Drobny at the other. Firmino went closer still shortly after the restart, the Brazilian sidestepping a challenge and striking the foot of the right-hand post from a good 20 yards.
Hoffenheim had collected 13 out of a possible 15 points from their last five Sunday afternoon outings, but that run was coming under intense scrutiny as the clock ticked past the hour-mark. Baumann did brilliantly to beat away Lasogga's first-time drive, but could only watch on and hope as the Hamburg goalscorer grazed the outside of the post with a devilish free kick.
Lasogga rattled the crossbar as Hamburg went for broke, but Baumann was not to be beaten again, the former SC Freiburg custodian producing further fantastic stops to thwart HSV substitutes Marcell Jansen and Zoltan Steiber late on.
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