Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich both won, 3-0, on Tuesday to remain tied for first place.
Wolfsburg has the edge over Bayern on goal difference -- a lead of plus-two goals -- while Hertha Berlin, a point behind in third place, beat FC Cologne, 2-1. Fourth-place VfB Stuttgart can pull to within two points but it must win at Schalke 04 on Wednesday.
"The coach let me start a match for the third time and I am paying back that trust," said Podolski, who will return to Cologne next season.
Wolfsburg got two goals from Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko, his 21st and 22nd goals of the season, and one from Brazilian Grafite, his 24th goal of the season, in the win over Borussia Dortmund.
Schalke 04 vs. VfB Stuttgart
Hoffenheim vs. Bayern Munich
Hertha Berlin vs. Schalke 04
Hannover 96 vs. Wolfsburg
VfB Stuttgart vs. Energie Cottbus
Wolfsburg vs. Werder Bremen
Bayern Munich vs. VfB Stuttgart
Karlsruhe vs. Hertha Berlin