Alexander Madlung gave Frankfurt the lead, but Hakan Calhanoglu earned the northern Germany side a point from the penalty spot.
Hamburg wasted chances to claim the victory and therefore remain six points behind their opponents, and still inside the bottom three with Freiburg able to climb above them when they face Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.
The news that coach Armin Veh will be leaving Frankfurt when his contract expires in the summer did not seem to make too much of a difference to his side, who took the early initiative.
Marco Russ missed a good chance to give them the lead when his header was saved by Rene Adle, only minutes before Madlung's spectacular opener.
Pirmin Schwegler and Alexander Meier both headed the ball on from a corner before the central defender showed why he has also been used as a centre-forward in the past with a scissor kick to beat Adler.
The suffering Hamburg fans may have sensed the worst, but their team showed no signs of nerves as they fought their way back into the game with Johan Djourou and Calhanoglu both going close.
The second half belonged to the hosts, who steadily increased the pressure with Calhanoglu at the heart of all of the dangerous action.
A foul by Carlos Zambrano on Jacques Zoua inside the penalty area gave them the opportunity to level from the penalty spot, and Calhanoglu, who managed to score a free-kick from 45 yards a fortnight ago, was not going to miss from just 12 yards, picking the top right-hand corner for his effort.
Hamburg continued to surge forward in search of a winner, but both Ivo Ilicevic and Robert Tesche sent headers straight into the arms of Kevin Trapp rather than either side, leaving Hamburg with only themselves to blame for not getting all three points.